Playful Substance Theater Company-Pithy Party: Barometric Pressure

Playful Substance, one of NY’s premiere indie arts organizations known for fostering emerging writers, went “retro” and presented a telethon fundraising event of three programs. Writer-at-large, JEN BUSH, covered the event. This is Part V

Playful Substance Theater Company-Pithy Party

Review by Jen Bush-12/10/21

Artists have a voice, a vision and a story to tell through mediums such as art, music and theater. What they need is an opportunity. Playful substance provides those crucial opportunities as well as support to artists. This is what Playful Substance is all about in their own words:

Playful Substance is a New York based theater company dedicated to fostering new works through our Writers Groups, developmental workshops, community events and fully staged productions. We believe that lifelong artist development, work-life balance, and the vitality of an inclusive creative space are integral to the artist’s practice. “Playful Substance” is the mission; substantive work approached with joy, cooperation, sensitivity, and humor.

Their Pithy Party is an annual event putting Playful Substance’s writer’s groups in the spotlight with staged readings featuring excerpts of works in progress directed and read by company members and friends. This year’s event was roughly four hours long and showcased 10 writers, 10 directors and 30 cast members. The live performances were spread out over 3 seatings. The online performance featured bonus content such as artist interviews and a more in-depth look at Playful Substance.

Barometric Pressure

Written by Bree O’Connor

Directed by Ashley Adelman

Cast: Bree O’Connor as Tammy and Dan Renkin as Clyde

Clyde and Tammy are married middle-age Midwesterners. Clyde tends to their hog farm while Tammy works in a meat packing plant. Clyde is upset that a news report interrupts his stories on television. The news report is about protests and picketing at the plant. Tammy has been involved in these protests. While Clyde tries his best to woo Tammy into the bedchamber, they have a big fight about her involvement in the protests.

It’s important to note that in Pithy Party these are excerpts of works in progress. With that said, this production was one of the most comprehensive and fleshed out of the bunch. It would be easy to envision this as a finished product.

In 1985 there was a famous strike at the Hormel Meat Packing Plant. This production could be based on that strike. This play was an authentic glimpse into the life of a rural couple navigating personal conflict through their strong love for each other.

Despite the weighty subject matter, there was a great deal of humor in this production. The acting was rock solid. The very talented Bree O’Connor who wears many hats in Playful Substance was true to her role and very convincing as Tammy. Ms. O’Connor nailed the Midwest accent. Dan Renkin’s fun and frisky interpretation of a Midwest hog farmer was wildly entertaining. His peacock strutting and suggestive interpretive dance maneuvers to lure his wife into passionate endeavors were hilarious. A well-done production all around.

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