Theater Review: Summer Shorts 2014: Series A

Love, loss, and guys talking

NEW YORK—This year’s Series A (the first half of the annual Summer Shorts festival), held at Manhattan’s 59E59 Theaters, offers three one-acts bringing brief insights into the human condition.

Directed by Fred Berner, Warren Leight’s Sec. 310, Row D, Seats 5 and 6 shows the seating location of a sports arena where three friends meet annually, usually only two of them at a time, to watch the current Knicks game.

As the men, Roman (Peter Jacobson), Eddie (Geoffrey Cantor), and Josh (Cezar Williams), are not particularly distinguishable, one from the other, it’s difficult to get a handle on their idiosyncrasies or needs. They discuss family occurrences, deaths, romances, and the like, and make excited comments on the game from time to time. But no particular event stands out (or perhaps that’s what the playwright wanted), so the overall effect was rather blurred.

With regard to staging, I found the overly careful entering and exiting from the bleachers to be studied and unnecessary. Less would have been more.

Roger Hedden’s The Sky and the Limit, directed by Billy Hopkins, starts off deceptively simple. Two young guys meet at a somewhat barren desert spot and discuss the present and future.

Foremost on George’s (Shane Patrick Kearns) mind is his upcoming marriage. Of a romantic bent, he tends to see things from a possibly exaggerated, positive viewpoint, but his buddy Aldie (Alex Breaux) wisely brings George back down to earth.

Aldie teases George about an oddity of George’s anatomy but that only leads to good-natured joshing and a discussion of George’s fiancee and her remarkable virtues.

George extols the virtues of this particular spot of earth where they now find themselves. His wedding will be held here, he insists. The future seems only rosy. But life sometimes has a way of interfering with one’s plans.

As if to tie up the loose ends of what has become a sad story, George’s fiancee’s mother, Ruth (Allison Daugherty), offering a measure of feminine warmth, comes to have a talk with Aldie.

The play offers a nice slice of life, well acted and produced.

Directed by Matthew Rauch, Eric Lane’s Riverbed, in rather poetic language, presents a tragic event suffered by Adam (Adam Green) and his wife Megan (Miriam Silverman). Adam, who has accidentally caused the death of the couple’s 3-year-old daughter, never ceases to mourn. The couple appears to suffer their loss in a separate manner, never dealing with it head-on. Thus, we don’t experience theatrical conflict, but rather the sense of underlying pain.

However, there is the promise of a positive future, and the play ends on an upbeat note.

An unusual play in its lack of theatrical structure, nevertheless, it holds one’s attention as its own kind of theater piece. Fine performances and direction.

The all-purpose set by Rebecca Lord-Surratt for the entire series is properly unobtrusive but effective.

Series A will alternate performances with Series B until Aug. 30.

Summer Shorts 2014: Series A
59E59 Theaters
59 E. 59th St.
Running Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Tickets: 212-279-4200 or visit 59e59.org
Closes: Aug. 29

Diana Barth publishes New Millennium, an arts publication. For information: contact diabarth@juno.com.

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