I’ve been going to shows at The Pear Avenue Theatre in Mountain View whenever I can for several years now, and the Pear Slices were a particular favorite for our family. They’re a selection of short one-act plays by local playwrights, like any Pear performance, imaginatively staged and well-directed. We were sorry that other commitments had us missing out on the Pear Slices last year, so this year, I made sure to make time and get us tickets during the opening weekend.
For the first time, a Pear show disappointed me. For the most part, the one-act plays were boring at best, and at times, cringe-worthy. The Distractor was a painfully long exercise of clueless upper class guilt. It started out with two thieves digging through a purse they’d stolen, one of them excusing both of them due to their impoverished backgrounds. Enter the victim, a teacher who lives a posher life than anyone in my acquaintance, who celebrates being able to enjoy a “heady red” wine despite the fact that her identity, money and car keys have been stolen. Then she waxes on about how much she liked the thief, and, oh, if only she’d given her middling students all an A+, she wouldn’t have been the victim, because it’s all about self-esteem, and if the thieves had had more self-esteem she’d be safer. It ends with the police knocking on her door and returning a journal which had been in the purse, which makes it all ok. I still don’t know where that teacher was living, but, honey, I can tell you I live in San Jose, and here the police don’t even show up if your house was robbed.
Blues was a trite conversation between an old woman and her middle-aged daughter. At first, the old lady complains to her daughter that the deceased husband/father left her nothing; a few minutes later she says she wants to learn how to drive because she’s had to cut back on her chauffeur’s hours. And then mother and daughter discuss dinner plans, the emotional highlight of which is the selection of salad dressing. Every single one of my friends is more interesting that these ladies, and I’m not paying to watch them go on and on about dinner plans.
Hejab was about the spoiled daughter of an Arabic immigrant who puts on a hijab and joins the Muslim club, but only for the cool stuff like pissing off her Americanized dad, and not for the boring stuff like going to the mosque and staying chaste, just ’cause she’s got some issues with her parents divorcing. She decides to ditch the Hawaii trip her dad brought her to, changes her mind because his new girlfriend is ok, despite being a despised blonde, and is simply a total brat. Oh, and father and French(?!) girlfriend have some c-razy accents. Honestly, I wish dad had shipped her off to Egypt where she could experience the respect she insisted Muslims give to women, like free clitoridectomies, thinned the accent down to that of a long-Americanized Arab, and gotten an American girlfriend instead.
Chickens took too long to get to its reason a granddaughter was nervous around her grandmother, and felt like an Improv skit the playwright had copied down. Lost Melody had a son looking for a “classical” song his mother had recorded for him on a mixtape which also had Abba. The MacBook he’s using to preview songs implies it’s set in modern times, but inexplicably, the mix tape his mother made him when he went to college only 4 or 5 years ago was a cassette tape. Given what else was on the tape, we Bickfords quickly figured out the song was probably not Bach or Mozart, but rather an instrumental of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, but 3 days of searching never got him that answer. Did he really never ask his mother the name of the song, or for that matter, is he so isolated he has not a single music geek friend?
The only play we enjoyed as much as we have enjoyed previous Pear Slices was Schrödinger’s Cat Goes to the Vet, which had Erwin Schrödinger cleverly playing off Jorge Borges about uncertainty and quantum physics, complete with the set switching between Princeton and Buenos Aires. In this portrayal, Borges comes across more serious than I would imagine him to be, but the lines give him a dry wit. And I’m pretty sure the story Borges remembered writing three years from now is one on which Neil wrote an essay.
The Human Dilemma closed the show, and it was a cute, simple story about a robot family revealing a secret to their son. It couldn’t clear the bad taste of the rest of the awful plays — it just made me think the pickings for short, local plays had to be terribly thin this year, and more playwrights should submit their work for consideration. In any case, next year I’ll wait for reviews of the next Pear Slices to come out before I buy tickets.