Shannon Woolley Allison & Devin Lee Johnson in Baggage Claim. Photo: HAC

Originals Night

Feng Shui by Taylor Vetter
Directed by Jake Rosenberger

Baggage Claim by Erin Fitzgerald
Directed by Scout Larken

A review by Keith Waits

Entire contents are copyright © 2024 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

Originals Night at Highview Arts Center makes so much sense; the opportunity for two playwrights from the March 2023 Quick Quills 10-Minute Play Festival to expand their shorts and put them on stage again a year later as one-act plays, then see them realized finally as full-length plays in Highview’s 2024-25 season. A generous offering to the writers and a chance for audiences to track the writing process.

Or simply enjoy good theatre. Feng Shui, by Taylor Vetter, charts the burgeoning humanization of an android, Kevin, played with an understated algorithmic foundation by Jason Effinger. Kevin was created by James (Darien Dean), a gay mid-level executive who passes the artificial life form off as his husband. 

The basic sci-fi concept here dates back several generations; from Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot to Star Trek Next Generation’s Data, it has been done to death, yet Taylor Vetter gives it enough fresh spin to keep us interested. Her play is about the blindered vision of mundane human existence more than androids, as Kevin folds into society too easily for comfort. The laughs are sitcom-ready, but there is darkness as well, and Vetter’s cliffhanger ending sets up a promising second act. 

Aside from Effinger’s confident turn, newcomer Rosemary Sims is a delight as Kevin’s first guide into a flesh and blood world, and Rob Morrow is solid as an unrequited first love (?).

A premise as goofy as anthropomorphized luggage has no right to work as well as Erin Fitzgerald’s Baggage Claim, in which a Grey (Shannon Woolley Allison) and Violet (Devin Lee Johnson) engage in a relationship watching their owners potentially reconcile after a bitter separation, but sometimes silly pays unexpected dividends. The objectivity of presumably inanimate objects gives the commentary shrewd wit,

Yet Fitzgerald is also interested in the reflection of human courtship in the interaction of the two suitcases, one male – Shannon Woolley Allison sporting a rakish goatee as Grey –  and the other female – Devin Lee Johnson playing the ingenue as Violet. The two are an adroit comic team, using their contrasting energies to weave a charming relationship that positions an endearing love story next to a turbulent breakup.

The set and costumes of Baggage Claim are memorable; an airport setting captured with economy and clever facades and handle headpieces to turn the two actors into luggage 

To fully realize its potential Feng Shui requires a continuation; fair enough at this stage of development. But one could view Baggage Claim as a finished piece, with no loose threads or obvious expectations, which makes me even more curious about what playwright Fitzgerald has in mind for 2025. In any event, phase 2 of the Highview project provides more entertainment value than we should reasonably expect from such “incomplete” work.

Originals Night

April 18, 19, 20 @ 7:30 PM
April 21 @ 2:00 PM

Highview Arts Center
7406 Fegenbush Lane
Louisville, KY 40228

Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of Artists Talk with LVA on WXOX 97.1 FM /, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music, and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for