Bob was an adorably cherubic guinea pig – aren’t they all? – but now Bob is dead. And it may not have been natural causes.
No, it looks like Bob took his own furry little life, leaping off a tall apartment building in a single bound and letting gravity do its grim handiwork. And it appears many other members of the animal kingdom are committing suicide, too, in a variety of ways.
What’s going on? That’s the central question of “Guinea Pig Apocalypse,” which kicks off a three-show “Night of One-Acts” hosted by the Arlington Players in collaboration with Little Theatre of Alexandria.
“These are a little different from what we usually put on,” acknowledged Michelle Lapadula, one of the four credited producers for the three-week engagement, which opened March 26 and runs through April 10 at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre in Arlington. It’s the first time TAP (as the Arlington Players is acronymically known) has been back on stage in the space in 25 months.
“We are so thrilled,” said Lapadula, speaking to the audience while sets were swapped out during a weekend matinee.
Little Theatre of Alexandria (LTA, for those who can’t get enough acronyms) has been hosting a playwriting competition for more than four decades. Over 100 scripts were submitted from across the globe in the most recent competition, winnowed by 16 evaluators to the three selected for presentation. It is the first time the Alexandria theater troupe has teamed up with TAP to stage those selected before audiences.
“Guinea Pig Apocalypse” (written by Tony Pasqualini and directed by Juli Tarabek Blacker) is a sometimes macabre, sometimes darkly hilarious morality tale about the impact of humans on the broader environment, as played out on rooftop terrace with a cast of Charles Blizzard, Nicole Lamberson and Joan Evans.
The other two legs of the compilation:
• “Wild Horses” (written by Brandy Victoria Durham, directed by Farrell Tapscott) offers a trenchant view of race relations as played out during a camping trip. Its cast includes Tiffany Gabrielle Morina, Ayyaz Choudhury and Amy Treat.
• “Across a Crowded Room” (penned by F.J. Hartland, directed by Alexa Roggenkamp) follows a man and woman who met at a suburban party and begin to ponder what their future together might be like. Mikel Rios and Rajesh Mirchandani comprise the cast.
Taking just minimal breaks for set changes, the production runs without intermissions, clocking in at a little more than 90 minutes.
TAP’s performers last were on stage at the Thomas Jefferson theater in February 2020 during performances of “A Daughter’s a Daughter,” penned under a pseudonym by Agatha Christie. The remainder of the schedule for 2020 and 2021 was nixed due to COVID, although the troupe held an outdoor musical revue last fall at Lubber Run Amphitheatre to kick off its rebirth.
Plans to stage an indoor comeback with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” this past January were derailed by ongoing COVID uncertainty. That show was pushed back to, appropriately enough given the title, summertime, and is slated to run July 1-10 with a promise of an enchanting world where “fairies roam and beauty, light, joy and happiness abound.”
In the playbill for it latest show, TAP noted the death, last August at age 77, of Brenda Wesner, who had been an integral contributor for nearly half a century.
After moving to Northern Virginia in the early 1970s, Wesner was seen on stage in a host of local productions (her favorite role being Nellie Forbush in 1974’s “South Pacific) and served in a number of leadership roles with TAP, including president. In 1992, she was the inaugural recipient of the organization’s Marge & Don Hopkins Award for exemplary service.
“Brenda’s contributions will be felt for years to come,” the organization noted.
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“A Night of One-Acts” runs through April 10 at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre, 125 South Old Glebe Road in Arlington. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m. The April 2 performance will have sign-language interpretation available.
Proof of COVID vaccination is required, and masks must be worn by patrons.
For information and tickets, see the Website at www.thearlingtonplayers.org.