Festival of Independent Theatres Marathon play-going, walks on the beach and more community theater buffs than you can shake a stick at can mean only one thing, and it's not a Christopher Guest film. It's the Festival of Independent Theatres at the Bath House Cultural Center. Showcasing local talent in rotating repertory style, FIT treats patrons to two or three short plays per sitting. First up last Friday was the Beardsley Living Theatre's fit-for-the-King production of Ellen Byron's Graceland. Rootie (Samantha Chancellor), a young, nave and slightly trashy Louisianan competes with Bev (Brenda Galgan), a middle-aged Elvis devotee, for the first place in line at the 1982 opening of Elvis' famed residence. The two women eventually bond over deviant husbands and coconut Sno-balls. Chancellor's Rootie is heartfelt, and Galgan's Bev is dynamic and hilarious. Even non-Elvis fans will appreciate it. Also showing is Boaz Unlocked Production's Ties, an exploration of the fine line between fantasy and reality. Writer/director Rebecca Finley bravely approaches troubling issues though audio and visual media and live performance. Ties follows childhood friends Ben (Stephen Tickner) and Meg (Rebecca Pense) through pains they encounter as they grow from (seemingly) carefree elementary schoolers into post-collegiate lovers. Awkward moment: Meg reveals a history of sexual abuse, and the stark announcement creates a good 10 seconds of seat shifting. Audience members may end up feeling like uninvited voyeurs, not a good feeling--and, all in all, not a good play. In Friday's finale, For the Love of an Anesthesiologist, Texas-born writer and director Brad McEntire achieves, nay, creates new levels of hilarity in a Tarantino-meets-Twilight Zone effort from Audacity Productions. Alfred (Jeff Swearingen), an occasionally spastic man on the run, searches for meaning, an anesthesiologist (Maura Murphy) and his way out of an eerie island bar. Joining him are a transgendered cocktail waitress (Julie Reinagel), a man in a trench coat (Kenneth Fulenwider, who steals the show) and a pirate-like Parisian ex-lover (Trista Wyly). Love shouldn't be missed. FIT runs through August 7 at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive on White Rock Lake. All of the plays reviewed above repeat at various times; see the Web site for scheduling: www.bathhousecultural.com/fit2004.html. 214-670-8749. (Andrea Grimes)
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