Who Likes Short Shorts? Check Out This Year's 10x10 at Country Playhouse

The set-up:

The short-play mania has swept America, perhaps an indication of our dwindling attention-span, but more likely a realization of how rich a story, and how many insights, can be provided in ten minutes by skilled craftsmen - or craftswomen.

Scriptwriters/Houston holds a monthly meeting to hear successful writers share their secrets, and to network. They have been active in the short form for over two decades, and now, in tandem with Next Stage Press, present the winners of this year's 10x10 competition at Country Playhouse.

The execution:

Humor has seized the reins, as most winning entries tackle themes, even serious ones, with wit and verve. Explosive laughter greeted "I Don't Care Much for Coffee", directed by Scott McWhirter, as Shelby (Tyrrell Woolbert) tries to read quietly in the library, but finds she can hear the interior monologues of those around her. As others enter and multiple monologues are heard simultaneously, the noise quotient rises, she explodes, and the librarian (Beverly Hutchison) announces "I'm too old for this s---." Woolbert's body language and reactions are spot-on and vastly entertaining. And, yes, playwright Alex Scott even adds a most amusing twist.

Whether quiet, non-violent theater would have any appeal is discussed in a diner by Melanie Burke and Bob Galley, in "Ordinary Life" by John Meiners. Their comments are amusing, and wise, and a startling, brilliant denouement answers the question for all time. It ended the evening on a high note, and was directed by Haley Cooper.

"Playing the Game" by Steve Stewart explores the conflict between coach and academia when a high-scoring basketball player fails a course. As the professor, who has a history of his own, Robert L. Jacobs, Jr. is excellent, but director Steve Carpentier might have worked more on the performance of the coach. This work, too, has several interesting surprises.

"Dog Gone" by Walter Boyd is brilliantly acted by Joseph Lockett and Lisa Britton, and has breathtaking energy and exuberant, blue-collar authenticity, and is hilarious. It is excitingly directed by Keshia Lovewell. "The Megamart Megasale" by Marilyn Lewis, directed by Lulu Mire, contains subtle wit, too good to spoil by citing here, but watch for the baby section, all Chinese, and all female.

'Trombone Trash" by Rachel Dickson explored problems in communication, if one partner spoke in 'trombone' and one in 'oboe' - two very different languages. "Power Breakfast" by Lauren Tunnell has a couple breakfasting after a one-nighter, as networking opportunities arise. In 'Death by Bloody Mary", by Nicholas Garelick, the power of urban legends is explored. "Sister Fred" by Joe Barnes has a young husband encamped under his bed, and a teaching nun is called in when a psychiatrist fails to budge him. "The Last Cats" by Fernando Dovalina delivers both humor and pathos, as human, and feline, mortality is faced.

These are the ten playlets, but there is a bonus of eight monologues performed during set changes. Bob Galley was persuasive in explaining why he, an ordinary guy, was a better find than Brad Pitt, in "Hotter than Brad Pitt" by Devan Wade. Justin Mouton was involving as a young man lacking, and then finding, self-esteem in "Black Enough" from Eric C. Jones. Tyrrell Woolbert nailed "Thirty (One) Nights of Passion", with dynamic energy. And five more, including "Summer Love" by Jane Wiley Keep, as a young girl (Cindy Parker) is head-over-heels in love, if only she could remember his name.

The verdict:

Top-shelf writing, and excellent acting and direction, create audience involvement, and evoke peals of laughter, in an exciting, professional-level evening of exuberant, varied theatricality. See it - you'll like it.

Scriptwriters/Houston 23rd Annual 10x10 Showcase 2013 continues through July 20 at Country Playhouse, 12802 Queensbury Lane. For information or ticketing, call 281-773-3642 or email swh10x10@gmail.com.

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