Theater Review: An Excellent Collection Of One Acts In Ridgefield

RIDGEFIELD — Once again Ridgefield Theater Barn is warming up the winter doldrums with a special festival of eight short plays that showcase a wide assortment of local talent and keep the audience laughing. Fitting eight “plays” into a time slot normally geared for two acts means that each work must be really short — more along the lines of a television comic sketch, than a complete dramatic work.

However, this assortment of uniformly well acted and crisply directed “shorts” can better be thought of as scenes rather than skits, because between them they have enough depth and substance to make it worth going to. “An Evening of One-Acts 2014” continues only until February 8, on weekends only. The limited run is a shame, considering the talent on display, and the effort so clearly put into it by all concerned.

Each written by a different playwright (each of whom has garnered awards for their work), the eight plays differ in tone and setting, but they all are clever, insightful, and occasionally moving in their depiction of telling moments in human interaction. Thus there is a good deal of comedy, but very little farce.

With the exception of the opener, “She’s Fabulous,” in which Mindy Goff and Debbie Levin portray two actresses who didn’t get the part, and proceed to dissect the performance of their “good friend” who won the role (in a glorious display of cattiness), the pieces explore the varieties of male-female relationships.

My personal favorites include “Starlight Ballroom,” in which Chris Ceponis and Fred Rueck, as longtime habitués of the Checker Bar and Grill, try to cope gently with the slide into dementia of the tavern’s owner, Claudia Noel Nerreau; and two which you probably would not feel comfortable watching with your children — “In Pillow” and “Take One For The Team.”

In the former, Marianne Goodell has fixed up her friend Susan Siebel with a much older man. The two discuss things afterwards, in a series of increasingly troubling revelations about kinky sex, death, drugs and prison. The timing and nuanced facial expressions in this one make it the absolute funniest of the bunch.

A close second is the latter work mentioned, in which LeeAnn Miller, frustrated by a lack of action from her inert spouse, Fred Rueck, confronts the “source” of the problem in macho-man Kyle Pinto, the cheerfully simplistic, impulsive, Yankees fan personification of the limp part of her husband’s anatomy. Apparently this was written in pre-Viagra days.

In “Road Kill,” Pinto and Dana DiCerto play a young couple whose trip to visit the in-laws from hell is interrupted when their car hits a squirrel. The intervening discussion on what to do about it reveals more about both of them than you might expect to learn in the span of 12 minutes.

“Eclipse” and “It’s About Forgiveness” both deal with older couples who are emotionally estranged from one another for different reasons. Cheryl Ann Boyd and Nick Kaye each find escape via their private thoughts, even as they picnic together on the beach, while Pat Halbert and Joe Niola meet in another world where the unfolding conversation reveals an unexpected plot twist explaining how and why they got there.

In “Reflexology,” Valerie Huegel and Rob Hunt spar with each other as they wait for the instructor of a new reflexology class to appear. Like Godot, he never shows, leaving them still searching for fulfillment, yet each slightly changed by their encounter.

Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 pm. Doors open one hour prior to curtain. Seating is cabaret style, and guests are welcome to bring food and beverage of their choice. If it isn’t already obvious, the collection has adult themes and is recommended for mature audiences.

Tickets are $25 and can be reserved by visiting ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org. Call 203-431-9850 for additional information.

Note: Online sales for the January 31 and February 1 performances have already sold out.

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