I love a festival of short plays. It is amazing how much story can be packed into a playlet of about ten or fifteen minutes in length. They can be screamingly funny, whimsical, thought provoking or touching. Little Fish Theatre’s latest offering is two evenings of what they have entitled Best of the Pick of the Vine: The Best Short Plays Reprisal. The selections have been culled from over a hundred and forty plays from the past fifteen seasons of their popular festival, Pick of the Vine. The plays have been divided into two evenings with six presented in Series A and eight in Series B.
Outing the Badger by Tommy Trull (directed by Margaret Schugt) is a satirical riff on the domestic life of super heroes. The Boy Who Was Born with a Tail by Matt Casarino (directed by Mark Piatelli) turns unsettling when two young girls invent stories that start out sweet and innocent, then lurch into queasy violence. Stuck by Christopher Lockheardt (directed by Holly Baker-Kreiswirth) is a riotous situation comedy wherein a man and a woman get stuck in a jammed revolving door in such ludicrously tight proximity that embarrassing hilarity is inevitable.
In Sophisticated Barflies by Kristen Lazarian (directed by Mark Piatelli), two desperately dolled up doxies on the prowl for men scan a crowded bar for likely dates. Their comedic competition and their affectations lead to laughter tinged with a soupçon of melancholy. There is affecting sadness on display in Cancelled by M. Rowan Meyer (directed by Branda Lock) as prospective parents anticipating the arrival of the son they have adopted deal with the news of the boy’s sudden death. And the final offering of the Series A, In the Jar by Mark Harvey Levine (directed by Bill Wolski), scatters the sorrow of the previous play as the entire cast of six, whimsically costumed by Marlee Delia as insects, deal with their plight of being collected and put in a jar by an unseen, gigantic child.
The audience, including this scribbler, howls with laughter at the funny stuff and sits in rapt attention when things turn serious. And I confess my moist eyes by the end of Cancelled. The delightful cast is a Little Fish A-list, boasting the talents of Holly Baker-Kreiswirth, Allen Barstow, Jennifer Faneuff, Kathryn Farren, Rachel Levy, Craig Shields and Bill Wolski.
The ever-inventive company came up with yet another configuration shoehorned into to their snug space consisting of three levels, linked by two sets of stairs, a slide pole for fast descents, and a table suspended by wires that disappears into the grid. The scenic design by Lisa Coffi is boldly painted by Daryl Hogue France. Props are by Teresa Stirewalt and Dori Martinek, and Jessica Westerfield, the sound designer, came up with a fine playlist of 1940s big band swing.
Best of Pick of the Vine—Series A can be seen in rotating rep with Best of Pick of the Vine—Series B running through September 2 at Little Fish Theatre, 777 South Centre Street in San Pedro.