The reason I picked Friday is (a) I was off pager duty and (b) Elizabeth, the charming elf who assisted when I directed Play On! in Santa Clara emailed me she was house managing and (c) Meredith Hagedorn, one of my favorite local actresses, was in it. I was also hoping to see the director, Jane Geeseman, whom I adore, but she didn't show.
Pear Slices is a series of eight 15-minute plays written by members of a writer's group which meets at the theater. Pear also teach an acting class, which Elizabeth took, which uses the drafts of those playlets for practice.
I won't do a review since they are sold out for their final two shows, but suffice to say the writing was excellent, and the acting was too. There were a few fluffed lines and moments of confusion, but not enough to hurt the plays. And when you have six people playing different roles in as many as four plays, it can be a challenge to remember who you are at the moment, and what you are doing there.
I'm not good at remembering names, especially of fellow cast members, because during the show I usually think of them by their character names. But the woman on stage for the second play was definitely someone I knew. The name in the program was Liz Barbour, which didn't ring a bell until I converted the Liz to Elizabeth. And then I remembered where I had seen those intense hazel eyes, the ones which look like crystal-powered lasers. This was my ex-daughter. Or at least I thought she was. I was pretty sure this is the woman who played Kate in Kiss Me Kate in which I played Kate's father, Baptista. This was in 1992, for a spin-off of Palo Alto Players. We rehearsed at the Fox Theater in Redwood City, and I thought we were going to perform there, but we actually did the show at the Lucie Stern in PA. Elizabeth is one of the finest actresses I have ever worked with, and her soprano voice is amazing. She also used to be a regular at Stanford Savoyards, the Gilbert & Sullivan group. Seeing her in a non-musical threw me off. I wasn't sure this was here, though the eyes should have erased all doubt.
At intermission I asked the other Elizabeth if she knew if Liz had been in Kiss Me Kate, but she didn't know. So I asked Diane Tasca, the theater owner, and she said she knew Liz sang, but not much more than that.
After the show was over, when Liz came out of the dressing room, I was talking to Meredith. I tapped Liz on the shoulder and said, "Pardon me, but I think you used to be my daughter".
"Did you do Kiss Me, Kate in Palo Alto?"
More blank stare. Then wheels start turning. Big smile, eyes wide open, she gives me an enormous hug. And we chatted till they kicked us out.