Five by Three
nytheatre.com review by Debbie Hoodiman Beaudin
The tag line in the press release of Five by Three, is "Finally, short plays that don't suck!" The tone of this line captures the contemporary, irreverent style of these five short comedic plays co-written by Nicole Greevy, Uma Incrocci, and Erica Jensen. Two plays are directed by Greevy and three by Jensen.
July 15, 2007
The plays use a cast of 13 actors, some of whom play multiple roles, to tell five stories about characters in their late 20s/early 30s. Some of the plays, like Impulsivity, a comedic piece about the consequences of socially unacceptable behavior, tend toward the absurd. Others, like Friendsters and Moving Day, use absurdity, surprise, and comedy to touch upon real, often difficult life events or relationships. The Other Side, a philosophical, Waiting for Godot-type play, imagines two characters' pre-birth misgivings and fears.
My favorite play of the bunch, the witty 28 Years Later, portrays a young woman's pain and misgivings about getting older and feeling increasingly isolated from her younger, raver friends. Nicole Greevy, as the main character Nina, is sincere and hilarious; her comedic timing is perfect. Mike Caban, playing Nina's boyfriend Marcus, and Melanie Wehrmacher, as Nina's friend, seem appropriately clueless and frustrated by just not understanding what she's talking about anymore. Ninon Rogers also stands out as Julia—the one who avoids aging at all costs! I loved Kirk McGee, Alison Satz, Dan Truman, Andi Teran, and William Franke as the zombies who so desperately want to wish Nina a happy birthday.
As if the plays themselves were not entertaining enough, one element that adds to the success of the program is the transitions between the plays. During set changes (or often while actors execute the scene changes), audience members get to enjoy a song about the sex appeal of doing house work, a monologue, dancing zombies, and other skits. I was (pleasantly) surprised by these creative transitions, and I found myself looking forward to them and anticipating what would come next.
A good short play is like a good short story or a short poem: focused, quick, dramatic, truthful. Sometimes, short plays lack an important element and they...well...suck. These five short plays are well-executed and immensely enjoyable to watch. In other words, they live up to their tag line and more!