Marathon 2009: Series B

Ensemble Studio Theatre presents the second series of one-act plays.

  • HEAD CASE Margulies, left, sustains an injury; Photographs: Zack Brown

HEAD CASE Margulies, left, sustains an injury; Photographs: Zack Brown

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5

If Series A of this year’s EST Marathon leans toward issue plays (war and the economy), Series B focuses on relationships and social dynamics, until the final, absurdist meta-Western, Sundance. The program gets off to a humorously awkward start with Leslie Ayvazian’s Carol & Jill, in which two older women pick apart their friendship, pondering the dwindling attraction of the penis and the possibility of same-sex fun. Neatly staged by Daniela Topol, this whimsical sketch features two frisky performances by the author and Janet Zarish. Ayvazian has a dry, elliptical sense of humor, flitting from banality to insight with a light touch.

Jeanne Dorsey’s Blood from a Stoner presents us with a relatively unique type: a cheapskate loser father with a fondness for the kind bud (Donald Margulies). A living refutation that smoking pot makes you agreeable, this constant complainer drives his daughter (Patricia Randell) into fits of frustration as he unthinkingly undermines her confidence. Family is again front and center in Cassandra Medley’s Daughter, in which a beautiful young woman (Kaliswa Brewster) goes to Iraq only to return horribly disfigured. Her churchgoing mother discovers that belief in God isn’t enough.

The most intriguing piece of the night is Little Duck, an episodic satire set in the offices of an animated TV series that is being developed for a major network. The various creatives on the show bicker and vie for control over the program in an escalating mix of workplace comedy and vaguely creepy sex farce. Billy Aronson’s deadpan script seems to suggest that the folks behind children’s programs are themselves wildly childish.—David Cote

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Ensemble Studio Theatre. By various authors and directors. With ensemble casts. 2hrs 45mins. One intermission.