Quickies Volume Seven

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Live Girls! Theater

Through July 22.

Four words: Good intentions, bad execution. It's a noble thing for Live Girls! to give women playwrights an annual revue where they can showcase their latest dramatic brainchildren. It's just unfortunate that they can't scare up enough quality scripts to justify said revue.

The seven short plays treat, in order: (1) a New York dive bar, (2) a woman arguing with her breasts on the eve of a boob job, (3) postmiscarriage depression, (4) an adolescent girl terrified by her sisters' description of her horrible future husband, (5) an immigrant girl rowing to America only to find soul-deadening commercialism, (6) traffic, innocence lost, and vehicular manslaughter, and (7) girls negotiating personal politics in a high-school bathroom. They're all ripe topics—if a little predictable: cars are bad, boys are scary, America isn't all it's cracked up to be—but the pieces aren't robust enough to carry the weight of their subject matter. There were a few small pleasures. Lindsay Porter, who wrote the first play, resurrected the phrase "gin blossoms" to describe red-faced drunks and Stephanie Timm, who wrote the fourth, included the line, "He puts out cigarettes on the buttocks of beggars."

At each year's Quickies, I'm inevitably more charmed by host Kate Jaeger—this time, with her a capella power-ballad interpretation of "Let's Hear It For the Boy"—and the entr'acte entertainment by individual actors, who are less vibrant in the plays than they are when buying time for set changes by peeling bananas with their feet or posing as Russian scientists surveying the audience. BRENDAN KILEY

Six Degrees of Separation

ReAct Theatre

Through July 30.

If you managed to miss both Seattle Rep's 1993 production (you're forgiven for skipping that) and the film starring Will Smith (as a gay guy!), then you might want to skip the next couple of paragraphs. Six Degrees of Separation is chock-full of Art History 101 and penetrating analysis of J. D. Salinger, but in spite of the cultural capital, the play's main attraction is still the squeamish pleasure of getting played.

If you already know the plot twists, you settle for watching fancy people have their lives upended by a trickster figure that literary critic Henry Louis Gates Jr. would recognize as a "signifying monkey." The fancy people are Flan (Dennis Kleinsmith), a Manhattan art dealer, and his wife Ouisa (Eloisa Cardona). In this baffling production, the couple has outfitted its Central Park apartment with worse-than-'70s wood paneling and frosted-glass decanters. I know ReAct has been robbed once or twice, and all of its props were absconded with. Forgive my indelicacy, Theater Bandit, but perhaps you could strike again? (I'm kidding, of course, but the less stuff this company piles onstage, the better.)

Into this dubiously haute milieu comes Paul (Joseph Mascorella)—black, chatty, bleeding from a hole in his side. He claims to be the son of Sidney Poitier and insinuates himself into Flan and Ouisa's lives. He wants their status, their money, their frosted-glass decanters, their obviously fake double-sided Kandinsky... Do you see the problem with this show? Mascorella is all right as the con-man cipher—he can juggle his standard English and his black vernacular, slump and strut with the best of them—but the power couple is all wrong. There's nothing glib or fluent about Flan, none of the philanthropic condescension we know has to glaze Ouisa's outward show of concern. And without convincing elegance for Paul to disturb, we never get to take our wicked pleasure in seeing the rich humiliated. ANNIE WAGNER

Late Night With Satan

Wing-It Productions

Through August 26.

Early in last week's show, Ryan Miller, as the titular Prince of Darkness, was commenting on a celebrity who "beat his wife." Then he paused and added, "... because sometimes they just don't listen." The audience made an "ooohhhh" noise and Miller looked disgusted at their disgust. "Come on!" he barked, "I'm the devil, people!" Which is, really, the rub.

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There's a monologue performed with audience suggestions. There's a sidekick (a very funny man, uncredited in the program, playing Dale Earnhardt as a hick-trash idiot savant). There are celebrity guests suggested by the audience (last week's was Harriet Tubman). There are commercials ("When you take a bite of falafel, you take a bite out of Palestine. Because who isn't these days?"). There's even a straight-up musical guest (a woman named Leeni performed two loopily beautiful songs).

But you knew this already. Talk shows are so familiar that any 3-year-old with a desk and two plush chairs could duplicate the format. This show suffered from too many dropped jokes and uncomfortable silences, mostly because Miller didn't stay in character. If he improvised as Satan the entire time, making the show a rude, cruel experience, it could be the kind of thing that people get stoned and flock to. Instead, we got a couple thematic one-liners—did you know that the Devil directed Gigli? Ka-zing! (Because, see, Gigli was a really... bad... never mind.) Right now, the whole experience should be titled Late Night with a Guy Who's Funnier Than Jay Leno, and that's just not enough. At the end of the show, Satan interviews an audience member, and last week's victim was particularly uncooperative. "Don't dick with me, boy," the Devil snarked at one point, "Or I'll burn you." God, I wish. PAUL CONSTANT

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2021 Social Justice Film Festival: ACTIVATE | REFUGE Online
Screening 50+ films that inspire and demand community action, October 7-17 at socialjusticefilmfestival.org.