Dallas — The concept of stigmatic twins is very much a myth—just like the idea of stigmata, in which someone suddenly has wounds like those of Christ when he was crucified. It makes for great storytelling, though. With stigmatic twins, one identical twin can telepathically share the thoughts, feelings and pain of the other.
It’s an interesting jumping-off point for Stigmatic, a play by Ness Everett that was one of the top two winners in Uptown Players’ first Play Write One-Act Play competition. The two winners are receiving productions as part of Uptown’s 2016 Dallas Pride Performing Arts Festival. The other is Bruce R. Coleman’s Boomer Tyro is Coming Home. (The winner will be voted on by audiences members who see both.) The third place winner, Carol Young’s Mom’s Guitar, or Leave the Latchstring Out, is receiving a staged reading at the festival by Echo Theatre.
Directed by Linda Leonard, Stigmatic brings us into the suburban home of uptight, order-loving David (Alex Branton) and his partner Alan (Damek Salazar), who’s a bit of mess. Opposites attract, after all. Alan is not as much of a mess as his “stigmatic” twin Alec (Derek Salazar), who is straight and in an unraveling marriage and life.
Alec’s bigger issues play a part in the life of Alan and, by extension, David.
This is one of the more cohesive ensembles of the Pride plays, thanks to Leonard’s thoughtful direction. And how about meeting the obvious casting challenge? The Salazar brothers are good finds, using their actual experience of being identical twins to their advantage. Branton softens his character’s neuroses, probably a little too much.
The play is too predictable, and Everett (a pen name, perhaps?) could ramp up the thrill factor, especially with a supernatural subject. But the dialogue is lively and there’s a good seed here for something more. As a short, intermissionless play, it’s worth checking out.
It’s fantastic to see an actual set—walls, multiple doors and doorways—in Frank’s Place, the tiny space upstairs at the Kalita Humphreys Theater. Dennis Canright’s set is adapted for the other productions in that space, too. It shows that Uptown is willing to put a little more time and money into a play festival, certainly more than years past. It bodes well for the festival's future.