The common theme of the 9 playlets that comprise Root [Cel.lar] seems to be "the basement", that is, 7 of the playlets are set in a basement, 1 in Hell, and 1 by Rob Tsarov is just plain dark, like a cellar. I like these thematic presentations of short plays by local playwrights, like the recent Beignet Plays at Le Chat Noir. Even if 1 or 2 suck, you're bound to see something good. And there was good work to see
in Root [Cel.lar]. In fact, there's a cute little discussion about the difference between cellars and basements in 1 of my favorite pieces, Storm Cellar, by Alamo Undergound proprietress, Gabrielle Reisman, in which a family waits out a tornado while playing board games in the cellar.
I'm partial to character-driven work, where characters (as opposed to caricatures) are gradually revealed through dialog or action, and resolve their dilemas in ways that are unique to them. This is difficult to do in 10 minutes, and kudos to the playwrights who pulled it off, like Michael Aaron Santos and A.J. Allegra. Fie upon the playwrights who did not. There's a thankfully short piece by James Bartell called Anymore, that didn't fly with me. Make all the arguments you want about Absurdist theater, but Absurdism is more than randomness. It's a *technique* for expressing meaning, usually significant meaning. If there was meaning in Bartell's childhood game, it was too subjective to communicate anything to me.
Why the odd spelling of [Cel.lar]? My guess is that the [ ] are meant to designate an array, as in a collection of playwrights.
Root [Cel.lar] was presented at Alamo Underground, which is actually the cellar of a home on Esplenade Ridge. Low tech all the way, but they had beer, candy, and a bathroom. Add some good performances and a few entertaining scripts, and what more do you need for an enjoyable night of theater?
FYI, here's my latest project. Hope to see you there.