Summer Shorts 2014

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Photograph: Carol Rosegg
Summer Shorts 2014: Series B
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Photograph: Carol Rosegg
Summer Shorts 2014: Series B
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Photograph: Carol Rosegg
Summer Shorts 2014: Series B
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Photograph: Carol Rosegg
Summer Shorts 2014: Series B
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Photograph: Carol Rosegg
Summer Shorts 2014: Series B
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Photograph: Carol Rosegg
Summer Shorts 2014: Series B
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Photograph: Carol Rosegg
Summer Shorts 2014: Series B
8/8
Photograph: Carol Rosegg
Summer Shorts 2014: Series B

Summer Shorts 2014: Series B. 59E59 (see Off-Off Broadway). By various writers and directors. With ensemble casts. Running time: 2hrs. One intermission.

Summer Shorts 2014—Series B: In brief

Throughline Artists' eighth annual festival of new American playlets shows a little leg by harnessing established talents like Albert Innaurato, Warren Leight and (natch) Neil LaBute to debut short works alongside those of relative newcomers.

Series B: Theater review by Christopher Kompanek

Series B begins with a pair of absorbing two-hander one-acts that mine the fringes of the human psyche. Daniel Reitz’s Napoleon in Exile looks at autism with humor and wit as an ailing mother (Henny Russell) prepares her video-game-obsessed son (Will Dagger) for life without her. Russell’s wry and restrained delivery melds in counterpoint with Dagger’s tireless precision as they go through role-plays, including a particularly heart-wrenching conversation with his estranged father. Reitz has a deft ear for dialogue that simultaneously exacts laughter and sobs.

Neil LaBute’s slyly titled The Mulberry Bush follows with increasingly pointy barbs flung across a park bench, Zoo Story–style, by two unassuming men. Bill (Victor Slezak) is on his regular lunchtime break while Kip (J.J. Kandel) is on a more pressing mission. To say much more would diminish the gut-wrenching pleasure of the reveal, but in LaButian fashion, it doesn’t disappoint.

The same, unfortunately, cannot be said about the second act, which consists solely of Albert Innaurato’s scatterbrained screed Doubtless. The opening moments—complete with inflatable sex toys—suggest a farce but we get a diatribe instead focused mainly at the low-hanging fruit of the Roman Catholic Church, Antonin Scalia and, puzzlingly, John Patrick Shanley’s far greater Doubt.—Theater review by Christopher Kompanek

THE BOTTOM LINE: Deft one-acts come in twos, not a trinity.

Summer Shorts 2014: Series A. 59E59 (see Off-Off Broadway). By various writers and directors. With ensemble casts. Running time: 1hr 20mins. No intermission.

Summer Shorts 2014—Series A: In brief

Throughline Artists' eighth annual festival of new American playlets shows a little leg by harnessing established talents like Albert Innaurato, Warren Leight and (natch) Neil LaBute to debut short works alongside those of relative newcomers.

Series A: Theater review by Helen Shaw

J.J. Kandel and John McCormack select an all-male playwright lineup for their Summer Shorts 2014 programming this year, a choice that turns Series A into an evening on the struggles of the modern fella. Roger Hedden’s tonally weird The Sky and the Limit consists of guys old enough to get married but young and dumb enough to hike stupidly. Alex Breaux and Shane Patrick Kearns bro it up comfortably but can’t lighten Hedden’s heavy-handed metaphors. Eric Lane’s Riverbed interweaves monologues by a husband (Adam Green) and wife (Miriam Silverman) about a vanished toddler, a father’s nightmare about momentary inattention. Despite lovely performances, the piece never transcends the atmospheric. The deftest piece is Warren Leight’s Sec 310. Row D. Seats 5 and 6, which shows us the titular seats during 20 years of heartbreaking Knicks seasons. Roman (Peter Jacobson), Eddie (Geoffrey Cantor) and Josh (Cezar Williams) alternately yearn for the years B.I. (Before Isaiah) and chart their lives by games spectacularly lost. This one has delicate comic footwork—the actors, Leight and director Fred Berner know the secret to one-act gamesmanship: Play loose and land every shot.—Theater review by Helen Shaw

THE BOTTOM LINE Guy problems take the stage in mixed one-acts.

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