Wanted: longer shorts

Short x 5

Turnip Theatre Company
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by James A. Lopata

It's not often that an evening of one-act plays feels like it should be longer. But after two hours with the talented Turnip Theatre Company it would be tempting to turn their Short x 5 into Short x 6.

Lisa Stock's poetic play Surrendering owes much to Federico Garcia Lorca. Two young American women come to Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, chasing men and dreams. As the men all leave for the front, their spirits dim in the emptied town. Diana DeLaCruz played the enthusiastic Virginia like a butterfly in a spring garden.

Richard Keller's Chronic Pain: A Love Story shifts the evening into comic mode. Cat fights and one-liners are solidly built into this quirky story about the ability of two odd characters to find love among sibling rivalry and hypochondria. Michael Puzzo, as Herbert Shell, delivered one of the most poignant monologues of the night: a lonely vision of a world that always feels like February. Judd Silverman's initially frantic direction became more palatable as the piece progressed.

The popularity of films like Go and Night on Earth has made it hip to tell seemingly unrelated stories, then connect them. Leah Ryan's The Wedding Dress ranks with the best of them. Using four monologues, she tracks the unusual journey of a bridal gown. Director Ed Cheetham cleverly tied the stories together even closer by using the other actors in staged tableaux to set each scene. Gavin Hawk put in a riotous performance in the frilly white dress while chugging a beer.

Lynn Rosen's dark comedy Ground Zero targets a scapegoat mentality. With comic characters like Sheila, the Ground Round waitress, discussing pay-what-you-weigh day, there are plenty of gags. But the comic antics couldn't drown out the incessant yelling that surrounded the finger-pointing. The blame game gimmick is set so early and wears thin so soon - though Ellen Mareneck's fierce portrayal of a fired advertising executive going postal was invigorating.

Easily the funniest play of the evening, Jim Doyle's Love Me or Leash Me is classic situation comedy. When Ronnie walks into his parent's Hartford home wearing a leash wielded by a guy named Sir, you can bet the conservative household is about to be turned upside down. Just wait until Mom gets a hold of the whip! It's too bad the leash wasn't longer. More of this story would have whipped the audience into begging for even more. Susan Wallack was in her element playing a doting and manipulative mother. Sexy Jonathon Todd Ross was as convincing as Sir as he was as Sir's wimpy alter-ego, Alfred. Bill Tatum's father was fit for My Three Sons. And Scott Ahearn was adorable as the lovable son, Ronnie. Christopher Bellis directed the piece with speed and conviction.
Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 1
Set: 2
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 2

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Copyright 1999 James A. Lopata