Don’t feel like committing to a two-hour show in development? Secrets & Sound: Six 10-Minute Plays is your ticket to theatrical speed-dating. You’re bound to fall in love with one of six playwrights, three directors each handling two shows and 12 actors total, four of whom appear in two plays each. Go!
- The Ferberizing of Coral has nothing to do with bleaching ocean reefs or fracking. Playwright Patrick Flynn pokes fun at a pair of paranoid parents practicing the Ferber Method to get their pretentiously named baby to sleep. They eavesdrop on the baby monitor while training her “self-soothe” – as instructed, coincidentally, for 10 minutes, the length of the show. The parents are the ones in training, though, suffering judgment and criticism from all sides (mostly self-inflicted). Director Anne Donnelly coaxes great dynamics and timing from powerhouse actors David Johnson (dad Kevin) and Rebecca Ballinger (mom Karen).
Makes a great first impression; swipe right.
- In Between the Drops. Madeline Burrows (Ms. Shafer) is exquisite as an actress in Officer Grey’s (Mediombo Fofana) interrogation room. She gives a layered, dumbfounding account of a potential crime, but Grey isn’t buying it. (Gotta love Fofana’s costume choices as a plainclothes man in blue: blue jeans, blue shirt, blue tie with his officer’s badge serving as bold tie clip.) Playwright Elayne Heilveil expertly toys with the narrative, letting juicy details trickle out, plop plop … whether raindrops or a suspenseful leaky faucet. Director Kevin Place keeps the intrigue buzzing like an overhead fluorescent bulb by having the characters get up, pace and “circle their wagons” in separate orbits.
Take my digits. Wouldn’t mind seeing this one again.
- Kylie and Janet and Robyn and Cher. The title is your first clue that pop music is the operative “sound” here. Hey, and this one is even kinda about dating! Guys meet using the “Scruff” dating app but, getting down to the DNA of compatibility, Spotify playlists don’t lie. An effusive Gregory Atkin (Curtis) steals the show with hilarious King Herod vibe. But Andrew Flurer (Everett) is Atkin’s ideal straight man, and Patrick Joy (Brandon) adds tender tension. The only flaw in playwright John Bavoso’s rollicking script: Does Curtis travel with that baseball bat? Why else would Everett be surprised to see him with it in his own apartment? Director Matt Ripa exploits every inch of the black box to weave a wondrous spell. Pin-perfect sound design.
- Adam’s Temptation. Madeline Burrows and Mediombo Fofana are back, with better chemistry this time living as government operatives in a bunker 300 miles underground for five years. Playwright Jack Piland seems to imagine an apocalyptic Garden of Eden story – something about workers acting on their own free will, resisting orders, or maybe it’s a cautionary tale about becoming enslaved to technology? It left this patron scratching her head, even though Director Kevin Place was creative in moving his chess pieces, and Burrows is a true standout. Set design and costumes were the evening’s most inspired.
Cute but didn’t quite click.
- Sign Language.. A unique experiment by playwright Joshua Reinhardt in obliterating barriers – one actor does not speak, using ASL; the other is deaf and speaks. Liam, played by Katrina Clark, is a character that does not speak, or does not vocalize. She is poetry in motion signing a hard-to-follow, tragic story about a gang of graffiti artists, as Aarron Loggins (Liem) nobly interprets via microphone. For this play alone, the glowing LED supertitles did not prove distracting but necessary as the lines were hard to suss out. Director Matt Ripa opens a new door to understanding, but the audience has to work for it – getting a small taste of how language arrogance isolates those attuned to different modes of communication.
- I Don’t Know … James McLindon’s iconoclastic play is wish-we-thought-of-it brilliant. He updates the classic, sexist Army cadence with inclusive, politically correct parlance. Protesting troops David Johnson (Private 1), Rebecca Ballinger (Private 2), Emily Gilson (Private 3) and Nate Shelton (Private 4) take turns falling out of line and trying their hand at verse. Ballinger continues to shine. Kevin McGuiness plays the despairing drill sergeant with rough-and-ready zeal. Perfect subject matter for a 10-minute treatment, and between the evening’s appetizer and nightcap, Director Anne Donnelly proves a comedic virtuoso.
Where have you been all my life?!
Like a blind date (or box of chocolates): You never know what you’re going to get. But these bite-size nuggets are definitely worth your time.
Running Time: 80 minutes, including a 10-minute intermission.
Secrets & Sound: Six 10-Minute Plays played on June 12, 2016, at The Source Festival, performing at Source – 1835 14th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online. Performances continue on June 17th at 7 PM, June 25th at 4:30 PM, and July 3rd at 1 PM and 8 PM.