Shorts are tough. By their very nature they don’t allow a lot of time to build plot or characters and must dive right into the crux of the matter. When both written and acted well they are like taking a bite from a chocolate and discovering your favourite cream filling inside. When not done so well, it is like discovering the one and only marzipan in the box when you really don’t like marzipan. I had both the most delicious cream fillings and marzipan last night as as Kinetichism Theatre presented Love/Stories (or But You Will Get Used to It), a collection of five short plays by Itamar Moses.
First up is Chemistry Read with a director (Maryanne Renzetti) and playwright (Seth Soulstein) auditioning actors for his new play. When the final actor of the day (Jason Clift) comes in for a read, we discover he and the playwright have a connection. The playwright elicits the help of the audition reader (Britt MacLeod) to help ensure the actor doesn’t land the role. Here MacLeod steals the show with a terrific performance which is quite fitting given her role is of an actor brought in to read for the auditions but not quite good enough to actually be in the play itself. Soulstein struggles as the befuddled playwright and is the first casualty of “less is more” in this tiny venue.
Next up, Temping sees a man (Clift) witness to the gradual meltdown of his co-worker (Renzetti) after a call between her and her ex-lover. While Clift does a great job as the man, all full of uncomfortably nerdish silence for most of the play, Renzetti who otherwise does a nice job could stand to reign in the histrionics which, given how close we are to the action, is just too much.
The third short is Authorial Intent, the first of two plays where playwright Moses decides he needs to play a role. Here MacLeod and Clift play a couple who have just recently moved in together. While MacLeod and Clift do well as the “real” life couple in one of the best and most relatable stories of the night, they are lost when playwright Moses decides to break things down into a theatrical analysis in the middle and as a play-within-a-play at the end.
The least successful plays of the night are both up next. The first, Szinhaz sees an avant-garde Russian director (Soulstein) being interviewed and having his responses interpreted by Moses’ version of James Lipton (Renzetti). Even as a short this one should have been shorter. Accents float around Europe and even the jokes that include chuckle-worthy Russian to English translations of Chekov plays wears thin. Again, the small space of the venue demands less from the actors.
In the final short, Scott Button channels playwright Moses in Untitled Short Play as a writer describing the process of his craft as two actors sit without moving at a table. Our interest wanes very quickly with this entirely self-indulgent piece and is not a great way to end the evening.
The final count for the night is slightly more cream filled bon bons than marzipan, but what makes these shorts most palatable is the “pay-what-you-can” price. If only Purdy’s or Thomas Haas offered such a deal.
And finally, I would be remiss in not sending my apologies to Forrest Gump.
Written by Itamar Moses. Directed by Brian Cochrane. A Kinetichism Theatre production. On stage at the Little Mountain Gallery through May 21, 2011. All shows are pay-what-you-can. For Tickets Call 604.999.1522 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit http://www.littlemountaingallery.com for more information.