My talented friend Gwydion Suilebhan wrote a play called Abstract Nude that was performed for the Capitol Fringe Festival last weekend. Besides being very funny, the play was clever and thought-provoking. I was most impressed with Gwydion’s gift for writing dialogue. As an aspiring writer, I find natural-sounding dialogue nearly impossible to write. See below for a flattering review of the play, which is excerpted from a general review of festival events written by a notoriously unenthusiastic theater critic.

A Boffo Buffet With a Little Bit of Everything for Someone
By Peter Marks
August 1, 2006
Page C01

In some cases, of course, you got more than your money’s worth: dextrous theatricality and unexpected pleasure. I happened, for instance, to take in, at noon on Saturday, a staged reading of ‘Abstract Nude,’ a new play by Gwydion Suilebhan, and was bowled over by the suppleness of the writing as well as acting. (Someone needs to pay close attention to this Baltimore-bred, Northwestern-trained playwright, who lives on Capitol Hill.)

The find of the festival, for me, was “Abstract Nude.” Performed only once, at Flashpoint-Mead Theatre Lab, the 70-minute play unfolded as a witty, finely observed glimpse at the ways in which a work of art can be viewed. Moving back in time, Suilebhan’s drama tracks the passing through several hands of a sexually graphic painting. In the process, the lives of a diverse group, from a frustrated wife (Naomi Jacobson) to a dissolute slacker (Josh Thelin), are comically and poignantly revealed.

A staged reading, in which actors typically read from scripts on music stands, is not the best way to see a play. But it’s a great way to hear one, and with a cast this good — in addition to Jacobson and Thelin, top-notch contributions came from Teresa Castracane, Mauricio Alexander, Jen Plants, John Lescault and Jeffrey Bailey — you heard a really strong play.

No doubt the inaugural Capital Fringe Festival brought new people to the theater. At the start of “Star Wars,” for example, when Michael Kyrioglou, Woolly Mammoth’s communications director, asked the audience how many had never been to Woolly before, most of the hands went up.
Still, pumping oxygen into a piece such as “Abstract Nude” may be the most vital service a fringe festival can do. Brienza, the festival director, said that the hope for next summer is to expand the number of performance spaces and offerings even further.

I say, bring it on.