In the second series of Little Fish Theatre’s Best of Pick of the Vine, most of the delectable short plays are sillier and played more broadly than Series A. There is an enthusiastic go for broke feeling to them that gets the sold out audience (on the evening performance I attended) hooting with laughter. And there are also a very welcomed couple of playlets that displayed an affecting seriousness. Not every offering will please every audience member, but one of the joys of a festival of short plays is that they are short. If one play is not to one’s taste, it is over in ten minutes or so. If a sweetly affecting piece touches the heart, one is sorry to see it end.
In One for the Chipper by Adam Seidel (directed by James Rice), a hapless little league coach does his best to infuse some enthusiasm for the game in some quirky, amiable children. Work-a-day, self-appointed heroes make an appearance in Mark Harvey Levine’s Superhero (directed by Caroline Benzon) when an introverted guy dresses up in a cobbled together costume to pitch woo with sweet shyness to the equally timid woman in a nearby apartment. Trash Day by Vincent Terrell Durham (directed by James Rice) is a serio-comic piece that evokes laughs and insights when a woman confronts a trash picker going through her curbside garbage. In Veronica’s Test of Worthiness by Edward Zipperer (directed by Margaret Schugt), a domineering, clingy young woman must endure a dinner with her boyfriend’s highly unusual family.
Art and pretense are on display in Peter Snoad’s My Name is Art (directed by Tara Donavan) when an elitist art lover has a difference of opinion with a lowbrow critic in a scene with absurdist surprises. The Crucifixion of Moe & Ira by Lynn-Steven Johansonn (directed Madeleine Drake) treads lightly away from sacred ground as two hapless funny guys crack wise from their crosses a week after Easter. In Normal by Jami Brandli (directed by Mark Piatelli), a father tries to coax his reluctant child out of a tree, a description of the action that does not in any way convey the subtle power of the drama. Cabfare for the Common Man by Mark Harvey Levine (directed by Holly Baker-Kreiswirth) takes a young man on a rocketing, metaphorical cab ride through life.
The superb cast of versatile, protean players—Allen Barstow, Jennifer Faneuff, Kathryn Farren, Geraldine Fuentes, David Kieran, Rachel Levy, Patrick Rafferty, Rodney Rincon, Don Schlossman, Craig Shields, and Bill Wolski—chew the scenery with abandon and touch the heart with welcomed subtlety.
The creative team is the same as for Series A, with a scenic design by Lisa Cioffi that 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 B can be seen in rotating rep with Best of Pick of the Vine—Series A running through September 2 at Little Fish Theatre, 777 South Centre Street in San Pedro.