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Time Out Theater Review: "Summer Shorts, Series B"

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"Summer Shorts" is an annual festival, now in its sixth year, that offers up short works from both emerging and established artists. Time Out New York's David Cote filed the following theater review on the festival's Series B.

Working in theatrical short form is tricky. If you're too quick and glib, you’re a cheap skit. If you're too expansive, your audience may want more.

In "Summer Shorts," the festival dedicated to the small, you get decent examples of bonsai dramaturgy: a comic monologue, a mini-musical and a wacky sketch. If you get restless at any of them, not to worry: something else will come along shortly.

The first piece in Series B is "Cabin Pressure," a solo piece by ace comic playwright Paul Rudnick. In it, the fluttery and breathless Peter Bartlett plays a flight attendant who, between campy digressions about celebrities on a plane bound for L.A., recounts how he foiled a terrorist attack and won the Presidential Medal of Honor. As usual, Rudnick proves himself the master of the sharp, satirical one-liner.

Next up is "Love and Real Estate," a condensed tuner by composer Sam Davis and book writer-lyricist Sean Hartley. Three sisters from suburban Connecticut move to the big city and find themselves prey to a mysterious young man interested in their apartments more than their hearts. Crisply funny Edward Hibbert amusingly narrates this urban fable and gets its best song, a Noël Coward-like ditty about, yes, love and real estate.

The final offering is a typically jagged and shaggy vignette by Neil LaBute, in which a middle-aged man breaks up with his boyfriend as the boyfriend’s menacing, whispering sister lurks on the sidelines. The piece is called "The Furies" and there’s a forced allusion to Greek tragedy. But mostly, it’s worth seeing Victor Slezak’s increasingly frazzled state and a long, vindictive monologue by Alicia Goranson as the sister.

None of the pieces are what you’d call unforgettable but they’re fast, amusing and for $25, you get a varied sampler of seasoned writers and actors. For a summer treat, it goes down smooth.

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