Review: ‘10x10x10’ A Ten-Minute Play Festival at Fells Point Corner Theatre

Fells Point Corner Theatre’s 10x10x10, a collection of 10-minute plays by Baltimore-DC area playwrights in its seventh year, always succeeds in creating energy born of audience anticipation. For approximately two hours, audiences see ten 10-minute plays, featuring a total of 10 actors. With dramatic stories that cover a lot of thematic ground, dedicated directors and brilliant talent, 10x10x10 is a treat year after year.

The cast of ‘10x10x10’ A Ten-Minute Play Festival at Fells Point Corner Theatre. Photo by Trent Haines-Hopper/THsquared Photography.

The plays collectively featured an eclectic cast: Jennifer Danielle Alexander in her Fells Point debut; Shamire Casselle, formerly seen in Strand Theater’s Detroit ‘67; Grace O’Keefe, who was seen recently in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Vagabond Players; Christian O’Neill, who has studied at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco; Tom Piccin, in his second year at 10x10x10; Karen Shantz, also in her Fells Point debut; Jennifer Skarzinski, part of 10x10x10 for the first time; Jared Michael Swain, who appeared in Fells Point’s Stick Fly and has a BFA in Acting from Towson University; Rob Vary, most recently seen in Vagabond Players’ See How They Run, and Dana Woodson in her second consecutive 10x10x10.

#1: Harmony, Fix My Life
The show started with a play entitled Harmony, Fix My Life, by Christen Cromwell, and was performed by O’Keefe as a newly minted mother, Casselle as her fairy godmother, and Vary as a dismissive husband in need of correction. As a director, Cromwell kept the energy high among the actors.

#2: There Is No More Left of Me After This
Director Betse Lyons brought a scene of two women drowning and contemplating the what-ifs of their lives in There Is No More Left of Me After This, which was penned by Jen Diamond. That play featured Shantz and Skarzinski.

#3: Reason for Separation
Casselle and Swain conducted an acting clinic in Reason for Separation, a ten-minute play that felt like twenty minutes, so rich was the depth of characterization; Casselle and Swain worked well together. Isaiah Harvey’s script, about a divorcing couple, was directed by Cromwell.

#4: Things We Talk About at 4:00 in the Morning
Things We Talk About at 4:00 in the Morning by Erica Smith and directed by Lyons, was science fiction and horror themed. Alexander and Woodson played a couple laying in bed, talking about their uncertain future. The actors created emotional depth in a short period of time.

‘10x10x10’ A Ten-Minute Play Festival at Fells Point Corner Theatre. Photo by Trent Haines-Hopper/THsquared Photography.

#5: UH: A Brief Musical
Donna Ibale’s direction of Utkarsh Rajawat’s UH: A Brief Musical, included Piccin as Demon, and O’Neill as Angel. Shantz wonderfully played a woman making a case, musically, as to why she should ascend to Heaven.

#6: I Saw This in Paducah
Playwright Rich Espey parodied shows like 10x10x10 in I Saw This in Paducah. Skarzinski, Alexander and Vary kept the laughs coming under Matthew Shea’s direction.

#7: Mira
Woodson and Swain explored what it means to be trapped in one’s own mind in Mira, by Tatiana Nya Ford. Ibale directed.

#8: Beer Bottle Bug
The absurdist Beer Bottle Bug by David J. Hills was directed by Shea and featured the comic timing of Shantz as bad girl Carrie and O’Neill as her friend Ty.

#9: The Home for Retired Canadian Girlfriends
The Home for Retired Canadian Girlfriends was an LGBTQI-themed fantasy written by John Bavoso and directed by Steve Goldklang. It featured heartfelt performances by Piccin and O’Keefe.

#10: Knock Knock
Alexander played an Amazon Echo-style artificial intelligence-voiced gadget named Francesca and O’Neill played her owner, Dave, in Rich Pauli’s Knock Knock. The play was directed by Goldklang.

Set Designer David Shoemaker (usually onstage in 10x10x10) designed a simple and reusable set, painted dark-grey, with an upstage door (which should have had a black curtain behind it). The audience voted for the top three plays via paper ballots, that will be tallied at the end of the run, June 16th. I ranked Reason for Separation number one, UH: A Brief Musical number two, and The Home for Retired Canadian Girlfriends number three.

Producers Barbara Madison Hauck and Justin Lawson Isett have a winner. See these shows and make your vote count.

Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.

10x10x10 plays through June 16, 2019, at Fells Point Corner Theatre, 251 S. Ann Street, in Baltimore, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (410) 276-7837, or purchase them online.