Theatre: Summer Shorts at the Arsht

Web.1Three Gems Nestling in the Mix.

Irene Adjan, Elizabeth Dimon, Niki Fridh, David Perez-Ribada and Tom Wahl. They’re the veterans who save the show, City Theatre’s Summer Shorts, on the Susan Westfall Playwrights Stage at the Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.

It’s a pumped up affair this year, the nineteenth season for City, with blasting undefinable music, cute young dancers in strip club poses, (vogueing perhaps?) a rehearsal of something or other that included a whirling Asian sword dancer and a howling MC, who thankfully, as the last of the audience entered, announced that this bit was not up to performance standard and would not be included in the show. Thank you God.

Web.2A somewhat confusing set of four blacked gowned mannequins, white lighted umbrellas (photog flags?), two tree stumps, a potted tree, five large spotlights shining on the stage, two columns of scaffolding, two large white hanging drapes and all this surrounding a back drop of crumpled silver, white and black material.

Summer Shorts opened finally with a sultry female fashion show voice announcing that Mira Gibson’s Old Flame (as predictable as its title suggests) would be the first presentation. Okaaaay.

Then the dancers returned, more torso thrusting, for the scene change.

Next up Richard Dresser’s Halftime, a lengthy monologue by Mcley Lafrance. A coach gives a pep talk to his young team, inspirational words while bemoaning the drunken antics of his wife.

More dancers.

And at last, a piece worthy of inclusion in a short play festival: John Minigan’s It’s the Jews with Elizabeth Dimon and David Perez-Rabada as a small theatre artistic director and the author of a play about the Holocaust. Well written and with hilarious performances from Dimon and Perez-Rabada.

Dancers.

Leslie Ayvazian’s The Click. Irene Adjan and Tom Wahl do their admirable best with one more do you love me piece.

Dance.

Cats take over the world in Dan Castellaneta’s and Deb Lacusta’s messy Shock and Awww…

Intermission

More strip club posturing

oilTheo Reyna’s clever piece The Scottish Play is a good opener for the second act.

Dancers

The best written play of the evening, Paul Rudnick’s My Husband gets laugh after laugh for Irene Adjan and David Perez-Rabada. A funny script and brilliant comedy from the two actors.

NO DANCERS

Tornado, a weeper by Arlitia Jones, has Tom Wahl at his very best as a father buying sports gear for his son.

Boy and girl dancers in a short ballet-ish interlude.

And to cheer you up after all the tears, another hit of the evening: Make John Patrick Stanley Go Home by Holli Harms. Irene Adjan, Elizabeth Dimon and Niki Fridh simply rock the joint. Adjan and Dimon enter, stand still, and they’re brilliant. These two should team permanently for comedy fame and fortune.

trio primoThen, to close the evening, a piece commissioned by City Theatre, Steve Yockey’s Joshua Consumed an Unfortunate Pear. The entire cast was on stage for this forced and mostly incomprehensible piece. My only note was WTF?

Famed theatre critic Freddy Lahore once said that ten minute play festivals can’t please everybody. Boy, was he right.

Artistic director is John Manzelli, with directors Margaret M. Ledford, Paul Tei, Ricky J. Martinez and Mcley Lafrance.

Cast: Irene Adjan, Elizabeth Dimon, Niki Fridh, Mcley Lafrance, David Perez-Ribada, Mary Sansone, Tom Wahl.

Ellis Tillman designed the excellent costumes. Set by Jodi Dellaventura, lights by Preston Bircher and sound by Matt Corey. Photos by George Schiavone.

Summer Shorts plays through July 6 at the Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami. 305-949-6722.

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