Summer Shorts 2: Series A

Photograph: Gregory Costanzo

Time Out Ratings :

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

With On a Bench, Neil Koenigsberg joins Edward Albee as the kind of author who can wring urgency from the strangers-meet-in-a-park scenario. Scripting vivid characters, the newbie playwright (a founder of PR empire PMK) supplies the standout work in the first series of the playlet festival Summer Shorts 2. Director Merri Milwe coaxes emphatic and nuanced performances from David Beck, as a nerdy upper-class gay teen poring over a book about the Stonewall Riots feet from where they occurred, and Mary Joy, as a crusty middle-aged Queens gal with a connection to the past.

The less said about Roger Hedden's Deep in the Hole, the better. Four vapid young adults see an evening of drinking, spin the bottle and fucking disrupted by an anthrax scare. Hedden aims for cutting and edgy, but his dialogue and characters are as witless as the middle-American loafers he tries to satirize. It doesn't help that Billy Hopkins's actors deliver their lines with an irritating pseudo-deadpan.

Preceding these two pieces are a pair of super-shorts (around ten minutes long each). Leslie Lyles's somber The Waters of March features an arresting Amy Irving playing a chanteuse coming to terms with personal and professional shortcomings in a most drastic way. And in Eduardo Machado's Crossing the Border, a Mexican father with immigration dreams bluntly instructs his scholarly son on the merits of baseball over Lorca. Quick exercises in character and conflict, they tease as much as they put forth.Diane Snyder

59E59. By various playwrights and directors. With ensemble casts. 1hr 30mins. One intermission.