New plays grace Stark Raving Theatre’s stage

The Stark Raving Theatre on Southeast Belmont brings their newest production featuring two one-act plays to the stage Friday.

“Featuring Loretta” and “Risk Everything,” part of George Walker’s “Suburban Motel Anthology 2,” both take place in the same low-rent motel located deep within the seamy underbelly of a major metropolitan city. While both feature strong sexual content, vulgar language and adult themes, the sex and language does not overwhelm the action.

The first play features Loretta played by Abigail Ray. Torn by choices facing many young women, she has left the city where she grew up and escaped her family. Recent discoveries of her husband’s infidelity had led her to her own sexual dalliances.

Pregnancy followed, but not before the death of her husband. His death has caused her to reflect on her own life and contemplate the best future for her and the baby. With her ex-husband’s family, mother and two suitors, Dave and Michael vying for her attention, Loretta has little time to concentrate on her decisions.

Dave, played by Spencer Conway, is a bright young executive who wants to make the voluptuous Loretta his queen. He is a bit concerned over the constant phone calls and the little information Loretta is willing to supply and spends most of the play trying to convince Loretta that he is the answer to her problems.

The other suitor, Michael, also appears in both productions. Michael is the smooth, street-savvy type, who tries to convince Loretta of her sexual marketability. A bit sleazy and willing to do whatever it takes to be a part of Loretta’s life, Dave sees opportunity on every curve.

The other character in the short play is Sophie. Played by Ina Strauss, Sophie provides comic relief and a woman’s perspective. The daughter of an ex-KGB agent, she left the Soviet Union with her father and uncle to come to America and spend the money the former spies extorted during the cold war.

Her father yelled her mother to death before coming to America to run a sleazy hotel.

“Loretta” delves into the difficult decisions young women make about the sex trade, unwanted pregnancy and control of their lives, while remaining funny.

“Risk Everything” revolves around a relationship between a mother and daughter. Carol, the mother, 50 years old and unwilling to give up the party life, has misappropriated some funds from a local loan shark. Played ably by Lani Miller, Carol believes a life without risk and Jack Daniel’s is not worth living.

Unfortunately for Michael, Denise, and R.J., the television-addicted husband of Denise, Carol’s zest for life is likely to get the foursome killed. Michael falls for the older, experienced Carol. “Risk” opens with Michael finally getting into the sack after his rejection by Loretta in the previous play.

R. J., played by Milo Mowery, brings a comic perspective to the play. More interested in television than his own impending doom, R.J. tries to prove to Carol that he hasn’t lost his sense of adventure since his time in jail.

Megan Harris plays Carol’s daughter Denise, who, having watched her mother play street scams most of her life, now hungers for the stability of a normal life. Carol leads the other three through a web of lies in order to convince them to help her out of her predicament.

The plays were enjoyable with plenty of laughs to keep the audiences attention. The themes are serious but presented with humor. With the strong sexual content, adult themes and female-oriented topics these plays make good date material. Few people will not be aroused by the action, light sex and funny dialog.

Located at 3430 S.E. Belmont, the theater shares space with several other theatrical companies and seats about 80 people. This is big enough to get a good audience in the door without losing the intimate appeal of the small production. The seating wraps around three quarters of the stage and allows for good sight angles from any position. The seats are comfortable, which is good as the plays run over two hours.

The production starts Friday, May 25 and will run through June 16, with shows Thursday through Saturday starting at 7:30 p.m. A Sunday matinee is also available starting at 4 p.m. Tickets are $15 with reservations, $17 at the door and $13.50 for seniors and students. Reservations can be made by calling (503) 232-7072.