Review: 10-minute plays tread in bizarre but witty territory

E.M.U. Theatre opened its 10-Minute Play Festival, "Don't Fear the Rooster," last weekend at the Lawrence Arts Center with a mix of musical and dramatic performances by local talent. It featured plays by Ron Willis, Jeff Sorrels, Leo Nightingale, Joel Reavis, Adri Pendergrass and Andrew Stowers as well as musical compositions and performances by Lonnie Fisher, Joe Griffin and Howard Callahan.

An E.M.U. bill of fare usually tends toward the bizarre, and this group of plays did not disappoint. There also were moments of sharp writing and several standout performances.

Willis' "Jungle Thrill" offers a high-energy, crisply timed turn by Laura Leffler-McCabe as a thrill-seeking hunter recounting the great kill to bartender Julie Unruh in a play whose surprise ending suggests the jungle isn't too far from home.

Several of the plays count on interactions between two people in bits of personal discovery. "Blown Away" relies on just such a technique as Tommy Cottin and Melissa Morrell play two teenage would-be suicide bombers whose understanding of complex political issues is somewhat limited but enthusiastic.

Sorrels' "Too Far" is a funny interaction between distracted husband Jas Abramowitz and his confession-obsessed wife, Julia Melim. Desperate for her husband's attention, the wife recounts a series of misdeeds, but the last straw for her husband isn't the one you would expect. On the other hand, perhaps it is.

Reavis' "Pleasure Cruise" has another dysfunctional husband-and-wife team played by Jeff and Rachel Sorrels, who find themselves washed up on an island after their cruise ship blows up. What follows is a series of frantic confessions as each tries to outdo the other in debauchery, infidelity and crime.

Past Event

E.M.U. Theatre Presents "Don't Fear the Rooster"

  • Friday, August 19, 2005, 8 p.m.
  • Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St., Lawrence
  • All ages / $6

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Nightingale's "Faust: A Sex Comedy" puts a new twist on the Faust story. Faust (Shawn Franklin), reaping the rewards of selling his soul for unlimited sex, is busy with the maid (Laura Rose) when he receives a visit from Mephistopheles (Ned Robertson). It seems there's been a mix-up in the paperwork. Faust must explain that he already has sold his soul and women can no longer resist him. But he discovers that once he reveals his bargain to his latest conquest, Margaret (Julia Melim), he enters a whole new kind of hell.

Allusions to classic works continue in Pendergrass and Stowers' "So, A Baby Seal Walks into a Club," staring Steve Ducey, Patrick Craft and Dale Buchheister. This time, "Waiting for Godot" gets a nod. Three similarly named characters find themselves between the Before and After, waiting for a bus, fighting over who has mistakenly gotten whose ticket. The Clown, the Buddhist and the Witch Doctor are all at a bus stop ... Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, doesn't it?

Fisher's composition, "Don't Fear the Rooster," served as the evening's theme song, and Griffin entertained with quirky loner songs including "I Play Because I'm Sad" and "Don't Like Me (Nobody Does)." Maggie Iocabazi's intermission "performance" and Callahan's guitar music interlude rounded out a night of the weird and the wonderful.

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