Rep reflects, 10 minutes at a time
"Reflections in the Mirror," the Rochester Repertory Theatre 's 10-minute play festival, which opened Friday, starts with a cute play set in a school room and ends with a morbidly sad play set in a nursing facility. In between, audiences are treated to short plays that range from ho-hum to fascinating.
The eight plays that are performed were selected from 38 submissions built around Hamlet's instructions to actors to hold a mirror up to life. It is fascinating to see how the playwrights treat those instructions and how directors Cheryl Frarck and Becci Miller choose to present the plays.
The first play, "In Love With Bobby," by Sharon Goldner, of Baltimore, explores grade-school dynamics, with Amanda Pyfferoen as a girl with a crush on a guy who doesn't know she's alive. It's fun but the ending is broadcast too far in advance — a common malady in this collection of plays.
Likewise, "Dinner and a Movie," by Tim J. Brennan, of Austin, would have been better if the audience had been allowed to imagine the ending, rather than having it explained to them.
Frarck's own "In Whose Eyes," about a woman coming to grips with retirement, is perceptive, and actors LouAnn Gotch and Marty Keech come close to achieving the kind of shorthand in which married people communicate.
Frequently in these short plays, however, the actors don't have enough time to develop relationships that seem natural. It's difficult for actors and the audience to quickly settle in and immediately drop the wall between reality and make-believe. In the cases where that magic does happen, the results are enjoyable.
The best of the eight plays is "Six Treasures for a Mother," by James Marlow, of Mattapoisett, Mass., with Frarck as a grandmother trying to prevent her immigrant daughter-in-law (Christine Boos) and her only grandson from moving to another state. Marlow has put so much into the piece, and Frarck and Boos pull so much out of it, that even a somewhat rushed ending can't spoil the spell.
Other actors performing in the plays are Adam Bergstrom, Alicia Frarck, Pauline Gerken and Tyler Irvin.
Whether the plays explore how breast cancer surgery affects one couple, as in "Scars," or attempt a non-traditional presentation, as in "Unsaid," all have something to recommend them. Invariably there is a clever setup, a good quip or a new idea to catch our attention. At 10 minutes a piece, that's not a bad investment of time.