In my humble opinion

Who, what, where, when, why

By JONATHAN CHARLES FOX
Posted 4/27/22

Also known as “the 5 W’s”—those words are at the top of the list in the writer’s guidelines bible. “If you can’t identify what makes your story unique and …

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In my humble opinion

Who, what, where, when, why

Posted

Also known as “the 5 W’s”—those words are at the top of the list in the writer’s guidelines bible. “If you can’t identify what makes your story unique and interesting by describing who, what, where, when and why” the bible dictates, “chances are nobody else will either.” With the action-packed week that I’ve just had, I’ll do my best, but there are “no guarantees in life,” as Barbara Fox would say.

On Friday night, Dharma the Wonder Dog and I made our way to the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA) in Narrowsburg, NY for an Act Underground “staged reading premiere” of playwright Catherine Lewis’ “The Dog Walker.”

It was described in the program as her “latest whodunit.” I’ve always wondered how whodunit was spelled, so I’m relieved to finally know the answer. When I checked online to make sure it was actually an honest-to-goodness word, the Google was kind enough to confirm that it is, and describe it for me as “a story or play about a murder in which the identity of the killer is not revealed until the end.” And there’s always a mystery (or two) and a detective involved.

Lewis’ play had all that and more. Snarky know-it-all that I am, I expected nothing, but was rewarded with a funny, interesting, very well written (IMHO) two-act play about (duh) an actual dog walker, apparently inspired by someone the playwright knew in Manhattan. “Having access to various apartments and clientele with diverse histories,” Lewis writes in the program notes, “was an irresistible invitation to a microcosm where interactions lead to surprising revelations.”

Smartly directed by Kyoshin Lohr, and staged with panache (I love that word) by Wendy Merritt, the six actors all had their moments in the spotlight , but special shout-outs must go to Heidi Grazine, Thomas Cambridge and Janet Burgan. Rounding out the cast of characters, Naomi Holoch, Tina Gordon, Charley Trowbridge and Matt Nolen (as the narrator) were swell. The story was filled with action, intrigue, unexpected humor and rife with surprises, which caused me to gasp audibly, something I certainly did not expect. I don’t know what plans Catherine Lewis has to bring the show to life as a full-blown production, but this work-shopped version proved that the play definitely has some solid legs on which to stand.

On Saturday, I tossed the dog in her stroller (don’t judge) and headed for Barryville, NY and the 2022 “litter sweep” (what some call “pluck”), which was taking place simultaneously up and down the Upper Delaware River region. I managed to find Johnny Pizzolato and asked him to write me a description of what I was taking photos of.

 “Yesterday was my last hurrah,” Johnny wrote, “as chairman of the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway Committee. I turn over the reins to Hancock’s Richard Lowe tomorrow night, and Lacey Gutekunst is the new Town of Highland representative.”  

“Our litter sweep was a joint effort with the Greater Barryville Chamber of Commerce” he said, “and Living in Barryville Facebook Group, with over 50 volunteers covering Lumberland and Town of Highland. Pastor Linda Bos helped to dedicate our new anti-litter sign, [and others] will be put up from Port Jervis to Hancock in an effort to curtail littering year round.”  

The signs were produced as a joint effort by the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, the Narrowsburg Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Barryville Chamber of Commerce. Other notables who participated in yesterday’s litter sweep included Andy Boyar, chairman of the UDC and Sullivan County Legislator Nadia Rajsz. Also present were Matt Sallusto from Next Gen Dumpster Service and Pamela Vega and Steven Van Tuyl of Der Oskar Tree Service. All told, the volunteers cleaned up over two dumpsters of waste and gathered a cement mixer, parts of a mobile home, numerous tires, and so much more. Wow, man. Thanks to all who generously gave their time and energy to this worthwhile project throughout the region. Every day should be Earth Day, right?

 Speaking of Earth Day, Dharma was invited to attend a party at the incredible Burn Brae Mansion in Glen Spey, NY, hosted by Sullivan County Historian John Conway and Debra Conway, the executive director of the Delaware Company. Mrs. Conway hates it when I refer to the power couple as Barryville royalty, but it’s my column, so… Debra described the event as a “L’Chaim moment” to celebrate Earth Day, birthdays (their daughter and son-in-law’s) and an opportunity to introduce the newest member of the family—their 11-week-old Newfoundland puppy named Quillan. Knowing the Conways, I’m sure Quill’s moniker has historical significance, but I was so busy schmoozing with guests and watching dogs frolic with children on the lawn that I forgot to ask about the significance of his name. Between the fantastic food, convivial atmosphere and live entertainment provided by talented duo Fisher and Kean, I had a lovely time, even though I was added to the guest list simply to chauffeur my dog to the party. True story.

Did you find all of the who, what, when, where and whys? Shoot me an email at jonathanfox@riverreporter.com with your best guess and the person with the most correct answers will win a fabulous prize, sized extra large.

Fun Fact: According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term “WhoDunIt” was coined by News Of Books reviewer Donald Gordon in 1930, in his review of the detective novel “Half-Mast Murder,” written by Milward Kennedy.



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