"State of the Art"
Craig Abernethy's delightfully clever one-act comedy, about the inner struggles of a
writer attempting to create, was flawlessly performed by Robin Christ, Ken Oberlander,
and Jessica John, making it the funniest play I saw in 2003.
San Diego Magazine, Don Braunagel, Theater Critic
December 2003

The centerpiece of the evening is brand-new: the hall of mirrors comedy "State of the
Art," by San Diegan Craig Abernethy. The play may never get a better production than this
one, though it definitely deserves a life on other stages. Robert May directed with
improvisational zest, cast Robin Christ, Ken Oberlander, and Jessica John as a trio of
generic actors stuck in a room, trying to create a show - or at least something that will
keep the audience watching. Self-reflexive in the extreme, though buoyantly self-mocking,
too, "State of the Art" takes place in the playwright's head, evoking the ghost of
Pirandello and the elliptical dialogue of Pinter. But it also calls to mind the
vaudevillian side of Becket, as Christ pads her few lines with yoga postures, the very
gifted John makes her clownish contributions seem like works of genius, and Oberlander
warps the relationships into the action that playwriting manuals call Conflict.
Abernethy... writes with confidence and, most  importantly, command of a complex tone --
absurdest but insouciant. And these local actors get it.
San Diego Union-Tribune, Anne Marie Welsh,
Theatre Critic
March 2003

The laughs come fast and furious in "State of the Art,".... Set in a writer's mind, it
cleverly explores the process of creating a play. In Robert May's witty direction, as
clever as the text, three characters work out a script while they work out.
The cast is terrific, riotously performing simultaneous physical and mental aerobics.
Robin Christ is an energetic/frenetic life-force, with Ken Oberlander and Jessica John as
her rapier foils. The rapid-fire dialogue is side-splitting, as they contemplate, "process-
wise," what they're "doing, do-wise," to determine what's going to happen in the play,
"place-wise," "less-is-more-wise," and most certainly, "poof-wise." The theater talk is a
hoot... for a new play and production, "State of the Art" is true to its name -- in terms
of writing, acting, and directing.
KPBS, Pat Launer, Theatre Critic
March 2003

Of the three, Abernethy's play emerges as the highlight of the evening. The San Diego
playwright's dazzling and witty comedy... is filled with energy and belly laughs...
exuberant and ingenious comedy... The plot doubles, triples, and quadruples back on itself
with laugh-out-loud jokes... it's the kind of high-spirited, low-cost vehicle that will
surely be snapped up by community theaters all over the country.
North County Times, Pam Kagen
March 2003

"A View Unassisted"
…the set-up is intriguing and misleading. The play is set “in the not too distant
future,...” we soon come to find out that what she’s after is more precious than gold (or
Acapulco Gold). It’s a priceless gallon of oil, [sic. gasoline] and she offers money, her
body, whatever it’ll take. But his price is a room with a view, all alone for just six
hours, with no intrusions, so he can indulge in the quiet, solitary reading of a magazine.
Deftly directed by Dane Stauffer, and perfectly performed, the production had all the
energy, urgency and humor the play demanded.
SDtheatrescene.com, Pat Launer, Theatre Critic
September 2006

Abernethy… concocts 22 minutes of absurdity that seems all too logical in the summer of
'06. Director Dane Stauffer… wrenches every ounce of tension from his actors, and here
tension prompts not terror, but well-earned hilarity in the most satisfying union of
script, performance and direction....
San Diego Union-Tribune, Michael L. Greenwald
September 2006

"Mr Ali... Torture"
Craig Abernethy's "The Sort of Happy Ending to the Sad Tale of Mr Ali Ali, Or: The Lighter
Side of Outsourcing Torture" takes a polar opposite approach to its equally serious
subject: the covert, post 9/11 US policy of the playwright's take-no-prisoners stance.
In this carnivalesque world, catharsis is achieved through the sublimely ridiculous -
Abernethy's deliciously malicious, neo-con white-boy rap, "We Gots to Have a New
Paradigm." Elzie Billops is a standout as the unfortunate torture victim Mr Ali, and
Celeste Innocenti strikes a poignant note as his angry, bereft wife. Director Natalie
Sentz and all the actors work hard to keep the energy fast, footloose, and flowing in this
debut production.
San Diego Union-Tribune, Jennifer dePoyen,
Arts Critic,
October 2005

Wacky, American-style absurdism dominated the opening program of the 11th Annual Fritz
Blitz of New Plays at the Lyceum.... "Absolutes" kicked off the evening. This San Diego
playwright made a big impression with his "State of the Art" last year at 6th @ Penn
Theatre. Like that earlier play, "Absolutes" employs representative types and looping,
elliptical dialogue, this time to send up the ideological fixations of an older authority
figure (John Rosen) dealing with an ever-so-slighly skeptical young recruit (Katie
Hartman). The characters...  talk in non-specifics: "Academically speaking,"...  "must we
always be so sure?" Without directly bashing the Bush-backed far right, Abernethy
surgically anatomizes the penchant for "always having one answer," for reducing
inconvenient realities like "sick people" and "hungry children" to a single universal
source of blame. Abernethy's wit is dry and deft, qualities mirrored in meticulous
performances by the resonant Rosen and deadpan Hartman. (Director Duane) Daniels created
gestural sequences to underscore themes like "staying on message to fine comic effect.
San Diego Union-Tribune, Anne Marie Welsh,
Theater Critic
August 2004

The Blitz got off to a spectacular start last weekend... with "Absolutes," by San Diego
Playwright Craig Abernethy, who wowed audiences last year with his ultra-clever wordplay
in "State of the Art." This time out, he gives us a corporate couple,... a mentor and
mentee, both dressed in dark business suits, sporting the same red tie. The political
resonance are unmistakable as the neophyte (the engaging Katie Harman) asks her stuffy and
self-important superior (strait-laced and supercilious John Rosen), "Must we always be so
sure?" He's worried that she's "going at Truth-Justice-and the American Way" on him. But,
he asserts, "We have to be right because we know
they are wrong." We never quite know who
the "We" and "They" are, but we don't have to. The implications are clear enough. "We
give the people what they want," he patiently explains. "We are not
for anything so much
as against... We don't fix anything; we create distractions." And his bone chilling
corker: "The bigger the lie, the easier the sale." Alas, the daily news bears him out.
Deliciously subversive stuff, delectably directed by (Duane) Daniels with witty, word-
punching hand motions.
SDtheatrescene.com, Pat Launer, Theatre Critic
August 2004

"That Day"
Other plays invite the audience to deduce what is left unsaid. The title of Craig
Abernethy’s “That Day” refers to Sept. 11, 2001(sic. and see below).
Kirsten and Toby (compellingly performed by Ravenna Fahey and Michael Finnegan) never
specify the date, but as they describe an exhibition of photos taken in the tragedy’s
aftermath, the audience can fill in the blank. Despite its intentional evasions, “That
Day” is rawly honest. Like the exhibited photos, it demonstrates that art can render
reality “too real.”
Marissa Greenberg, Albuquerque Journal
June 2008

(Note: In the play, "The Day" refers to 9/11/01, and "that day" refers to a date a few
months later.)