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Sketchbook 11: Evolution at Collaboraction | Theater review

Devised works outpace the traditional scripts in Collaboraction’s 11th annual short-play party.

Photograph: Candice Conner
Ada Grey and Paola Lehman in I and My iPhone, part of Sketchbook 11: Evolution

The 11th installment of the annual short-play showcase features Collaboraction’s trademark technological glitz and festive atmosphere. While the DJs playing classic rock mash-ups, the giant wall of video panels and the opening sequence seemingly lifted from Myst VI might raise worries that award-show production values will eclipse the slim scenarios nominally at the festival’s center, the work on display holds its own.

As in recent years, this Sketchbook combines devised pieces, here curated by Links Hall’s Roell Schmidt, with more traditional ten-minute plays. The devised work is of universally high quality. Zoe Schwartz, Dav Yendler and Felicia Bertch contribute “It Came from the 3rd Dimension,” a hilariously inventive live-action 3-D movie. “Study in Forgetting #3,” by Manual Cinema, is an evocative blend of shadow puppetry and live shadow play. The trio of Meida McNeal, Felicia Holman and Abra Johnson contributes a sharp take on African-American female experience in “Suspect Politic.” And in the brief but stellar dance-theater piece “I Wish You Love” by Meredith Miller, buoy meets girl with heart-sinking results.

We get more of a mixed bag with the traditional plays. The highlights: Chad Deity author Kristoffer Diaz striking back at New York Times critic Charles Isherwood in his wittily vindictive “Evolution”; members of the Red Orchid Youth Ensemble charmingly staging a contemporary intervention in Mat Smart’s “I and My iPhone.” Even these standouts, though, keep things pretty sketchy.

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