Septuagenarian stalwart Israel Horovitz has written more than 70 diverse plays (the best known is Line), but these three shorts share a number of themes: losing loved ones, love or lust at first sight, and the link between personal identity and politics. In The Bump, two adult orphans (Julie Asriyan-Piotrowski, Hunter Thore) engaged to others meet cute at a passport office. After bonding over books, they connect on a deeper level. Like Once without songs, the piece strikes a bittersweet chord, an allegory for the regrets we carry throughout our lives.
Horovitz wrote It’s Called the Sugar Plum when he was just a teen, and its immaturity shows. An uneasy combination of naturalistic and absurdist sensibilities, the play isn’t helped by the frenetic performances of Brian Rice and Jenna Ciralli (both producers of this premiere by Ethikos Productions), as a working-class Harvard kid who accidentally runs down a fellow student and the deceased’s artsy fiancée.
The incendiary Beirut Rocks, by far the best of the bunch, ends things with a bang—make that many bangs, courtesy of Tasha Guevara’s visceral sound design. Four American college students holed up in a hotel during the outbreak of the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War await evacuation. As things intensify outside, tempers rage in the tiny room. The antagonists, a Jewish kid from the Bronx and a Palestine-born but U.S.-raised woman, are played by the couple from The Bump, making their hostility even more powerful and disheartening. By the end, you sympathize with and are terrified of both of them—a fitting metaphor for the never-ending Israeli-Arab conflict.—Raven Snook