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Saturday, March 20, 2010

+30NYC

The Red Fern Theatre Company describes +30NYC, its intriguing evening of one-acts, as "new plays imaging the next New York." Actually, New York is only important in a few of the plays; a more consistent theme is that the future is nothing to look forward to. In Tommy Smith's subtle tale, Thirty Story Masterpieces (directed by Jessi D. Hill), a young man (the excellent Brian Robert Burns) visits a middle-aged woman (Corinna May). Their conversation seems relatively innocuous (along the lines of, "Would you like a cigarette?" "Sure, why not?"), but a creepy, heartbreaking subtext gradually becomes apparent. In the confusing play in the Zone, a book becomes the center of a dangerous negotiation as well as a symbol of all that has been lost in playwright Michael John Garc├ęs' dystopia. I suspect this might be a good play, but some of the performers were unintelligible; however, Maria-Christina Oliveras was excellent as the outlaw with nothing to lose. The affectingly creepy Fish Bowl, written by Christine Evans and directed by Melanie Moyer Williams, repeats a set of virtually identical lines, over and over, to limn a world where your body is not your own and no one is to be trusted. My favorite of the one-acts, Remembrance Vessel, smartly written by Ashlin Halfnight and well-directed by Melanie Moyer Williams, provides (welcome!) comic relief as the excellent Jessica Cummings, Kathryn Kates, and, in particular, Jordan Kaplan play people discovering that scientific advances can have surprising consequences. The other three plays, Footprint, Dodo Solastalgia, and Rosa's Little Jar of Fear, are all good; they explore, among other things, modular living, the return of the dodo, and airport security, respectively. In all, +30NYC is a strong evening of theatre and far better written, directed, and acted than many other collections of one-acts I have seen.

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