Friday, May 27, 2011

10x25 - Series A **

10x25 is the Atlantic Theater Company's 25th Anniversary Festival of 10-Minute Plays. Series A presents the first eight plays. As is so often the case in projects like this, the results vary widely in quality. First off was Ethan Coen's "The Redeemers," about patricidal brothers out West, in which a gurgling Mr. Coffee has the best part. Next was the evening's low point, "Posh Pill" by Kia Corthron, a clumsy harangue about health care disguised as a play, that seemed to drag on much longer than 10 minutes. David Mamet's "In a Linguistic Class," about a professor and student negotiating a grade for the student's poem, was the shortest and, to me, most amusing offering. Kate Moira Ryan's "Master Class with Cassiopeia O'Hara" is a monologue for the always entertaining Kristen Johnston as a has-been (or never-was) actress passing her "wisdom" on to a new generation. It was over the top, but fun. For me, the most interesting play was John Guare's "Elzbieta," a biographical sketch about a famous Polish actress, that blended narration and impersonation. Stephen Belber's "Various Rigors," about a very strange physical examination, seemed weird and pointless. Lucy Thurber's "Marriage," a dinner conversation for a long-married couple, their unhappy daughter and her husband, was lively and well-made. David Pittu is lyricist, star and director of "Jacob Sterling, Distinguished Alumnus," during which the hapless alum returns to his alma mater, S.P.A.S.M. (South Palo Alto School of Music) for an interview with excerpts from his music for unproduced musicals. Randy Redd wrote the music. Amusing on its own, the play is even funnier for those who saw Pittu's earlier turn as Sterling in "What's That Smell?" Among the 16 actors I have not mentioned, Tim Blake Nelson, Kristin Griffith, Peter Maloney, Glenn Fitzgerald and Mikaela Feely-Lehmann stood out.
Series B and C are coming up in June with playwrights including Tina Howe, Craig Lucas, Keith Reddin, David Auburn, Peter Parnell and Sam Shepard.

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