Just to put it out there, I love an evening of short plays that run about ten minutes more or less. It is amazing how these short plays, if well written and well performed, can have an impact that evokes laughter, touches the emotions, or even horrifies. Little Fish Theatre’s Pick of the Vine delivers all this and more.
I Don’t Know by James McLindon kicks off the performance with a giddy comedy that has a sergeant (Rodney Rincon) putting his raw recruits through a series of marching cadence calls, the kind that often begin, “I don’t know, but I’ve been told.” In the modern army with mixed platoons that may include men, women, gays, lesbians and others, the often bawdy call-and-response can be pretty blue and might be offensive to some. Anybody know the chant that starts, “This is my rifle, this is my gun…?” The exercise devolves into chaos when the recruits start to suggest some PC options. Hilarious!
In Patrick Gabridge’s Santa Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, an older married couple (Geraldine Fuentes and Mr. Rincon) is in a quandary about telling their grown son (Brendan Gill) the truth about Santa Claus.
An innocent encounter in a park between a friendly, attractive woman in a wheel chair (Olivia Schlueter-Corey) and a handsome, well-dressed man (Bill Wolski) rockets into a thriller in Wheel Chair by Scott Mullen.
A loving couple (Holly Baker-Kreisworth and Don Schlossman) take an emotional trip down memory lane in The Way It Really Truly Almost Was, a touching fantasy by Brendan Healy.
In The Holy Grill by Gary Shaffer, an apprehensive couple (Jessica Winward and Mr. Wolski) gets the third degree when they show up for a pre-nuptial meeting with a priest.
In Thick Gnat Hands by Erin Mallon, an encounter between two dialysis patients, one garrulous (Mr. Schlossman), the other reserved (Mr. Wolski), is an over-the-top comedy, until it isn’t.
Skillfully played by Mr. Wolski and Ms. Winward as a couple with a new-born child, the raw emotion of Stephen Peirick’s powerful Screaming can haunt an audience long after the theatre empties.
Especially apt in this grim political time, A Very Short Play About The Very Short Presidency of William Henry Harrison by Jonathan Yukich, is a two-character satire featuring Mr. Rincon as the president and Mr. Schlossman as his aide. Generally regarded as an act of folly, Harrison delivered his “numbingly long Inaugural Address (at 8,445 words, the longest in history) in wet, freezing weather without a hat, overcoat or gloves (www.nytimes.com).” He caught a cold, which turned into the pneumonia that killed him. This comic skit delivers plenty of laughs
A Womb with a View, a delightful fantasy by Rich Orloff, features the adorable Holly Baker-Kreisworth as an infant in utero reluctant to leave her snug confinement, as a crew of operatives prepare to launch her into the light of the world.
The shows are keenly staged by a phalanx of directors — Richard Perloff, Elissa Anne Polansky, Gigi Fusco Meese and Madeleine Drake. Christopher Beyries designed the set, which is lit by Robert Richardson. Aja Morris-Smiley designed the costumes and Ms. Baker-Kreisworth’s sound design delivers a splendid playlist of Beatles covers.
You want to have some fun at the theatre with thrills to boot? Get on down Little Fish Theatre, 777 S. Centre Street in San Pedro. Pick of the Vine runs through February 11.