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“THE NINTH ANNUAL 10 BY 10 FESTIVAL IN THE TRIANGLE” | Review by Robert W. McDowell

“THE NINTH ANNUAL 10 BY 10 FESTIVAL IN THE TRIANGLE” OFFERS A MIXED BAG OF GOOD, BETTER, AND BEST 10-MINUTE PLAYS

ArtsCenter Stage’s NINTH ANNUAL 10 BY 10 FESTIVAL IN THE TRIANGLE, which will complete its three-week run on July 15-18 and 22-25, is a mixed bag of good, better, and best — to use the old Sears, Roebuck & Co. product branding system. That is 10 plays written by 10 different playwrights from all across the nation, starring 10 Triangle actors, for just 10 bucks! (There also are eight different local directors who, like the actors, are some of the Triangle’s top talents, plus lighting designer Cecilia Durbin, costume designer Katharine Whalen, props designer B Holroyd, and sound designer and electric guitarist Bryon Settle.)

The GOOD plays include (in alphabetical order by title):

o  “Don’t Eat the Yellow Picasso“: Two pigments on the artist’s pallette (played by Chapel Hill actress Jenny Wales and Raleigh actress Julie Oliver) dish on the art of Spanish painter Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and compete for his attention in this ambitious, but only partially successful comedy, written by James C. Ferguson of Plainville, MA and directed by Jerry Sipp of Hillsborough.

o  “Good God Enters Flossing“: Three sleepy — or maybe just stupid — friends (portrayed by Pittsboro actor Chris Chiron, Rocky Mount and Raleigh actor Kenneth De Abrew, and Carrboro actor Estes Tarver) wake up to find the Ark of the Covenant in their living room and muse on the meaning of that in this mildly amusing but underwritten comic sketch, penned by J. Stephen Brantley of New York City and also directed by Jerry Sipp.

o  “The Size of Furniture“: A contentious couple (played by Chris Chiron and Raleigh actress Morrisa Nagel) drive a furniture saleswoman (Chapel Hill actress Sarah Donnell) to distraction as they quibble over what to buy to furnish their home in this 10-minute sitcom, scripted by Benjamin Adair Murphy of Brooklyn, NY and staged by Jeff Stanley of Durham.

o  “Somewhere Out There“: The music of the spheres plays an important role in this moderately funny world premiere, written by David Rabinowitz of Carrboro and directed by P.J. Maske of Raleigh, and featuring Kenneth De Abrew, Sarah Donnell, Morrisa Nagel, Raleigh actor Dan Oliver, Estes Tarver, and Jenny Wales.

The BETTER plays include:

o  “Closet Case“: This testy confrontation between an indignant home owner (Kenneth De Abrew) and the woman who insists that she has the right to make her home in his closet (Raleigh actress Lori Mahl) is the world premiere of a cute comedy, authored by Judd Lear Silverman of Brooklyn, NY and directed by Chris Chiron.

o  “Fighting Mr. Right“: This feisty Battle of the Sexes pits a potential Mr. Right (Estes Tarver) against a persnickety Ms. Right (Jenny Wales), who won’t sleep with him until they have had three fights, in a witty world premiere by Barbara Lindsay of Seattle, WA, which was staged by Jeri Lynn Schulke of Chapel Hill.

o  “30 Love“: As a combative husband and wife personally negotiate their impending divorce, Estes Tarver and Lori Mahl exchange hilarious verbal brickbats in this confrontational comedy written by Terry McFadden of Los Angeles, CA and directed by Jerome Davis of Raleigh.

The BEST plays include:

o  “The Banana Trial“: If they were just paying attention, a couple of primatologists (Carrboro actor John Allore and Lori Mahl) could learn a lot from the monkeys that they are studying (impishly played by Julie and Dan Oliver) in this laugh-filled fun-fest, written by Eddie Zipperer of Milledgeville, GA and directed by ArtsCenter Stage artistic director Emily Ranii of Carrboro.

o  “The Miles High Club“: A NASA interviewer (Sarah Donnell) puts two astronauts who are married (Morrisa Nagel and Dan Oliver) on the hot seat as she oh-so-diplomatically quizzes them about whether they would be willing to be the first couple to have sex in space — on camera — in this delightful world premiere penned by Doug Brook of San Jose, CA and directed by Kylie McCormick of Raleigh.

o  “Stuck“: The comic contortions of two hapless strangers stuck in a revolving door (John Allore and Julie Oliver) is the subject of this wonderful world premiere by Christopher Lockheardt of Andover, MA and directed by Emily Ranii. In a brief sketch very much like one of the merry misadventures that made the classic “I Love Lucy” television series such a knee-slapper, Allore and Oliver proved their acting mettle and gave the overflow ArtsCenter Stage crowd last Saturday night some of the evening’s biggest laughs.

So, make your reservations right now if you want to see this crowd-pleasing potpourri of 10-minute comedies, cleverly conceived, smartly staged, and passionately performed by some of the Triangle’s finest local directors and actors.

SECOND OPINION: July 14th Durham, NC INDEPENDENT WEEKLY review by Zach Smith (who awarded the show 3.5 of 5 stars): http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/a-strong-set-of-comic-shorts-at-the-artcenters-10-by-10/Content?oid=1534399; July 10th Raleigh, NC Classical Voice of North Carolina review by Alan R. Hall: http://cvnc.org/reviews/2010/072010/10by10.html; and July 2nd Durham, NC HERALD-SUN preview by Cliff Bellamy: http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/8115014/article-AT-THE-ARTSCENTER—10-PLAYS-IN-10-MINUTES?instance=main_article (NOTE: You must register first to read this article). (To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the July 8th TRIANGLE THEATER REVIEW preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/07/the-ninth-annual-10-by-10-festival-in-the-triangle-july-8-25/)

ArtsCenter Stage presents THE NINTH ANNUAL 10 BY 10 FESTIVAL IN THE TRIANGLE at 8 p.m. July 15-17 and 22-24 and 3 p.m. July 18 and 25 in the Earl and Rhoda Wynn Theater at 300-G E. Main St., Carrboro, North Carolina 27510.

TICKETS: $10.

BOX OFFICE: 919/929-2787, ext. 201; info@artscenterlive.org; or http://www.etix.com/.

SHOW: http://www.artscenterlive.org/index.php?a=Theatre&b=Current Productions&id=799.

PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.artscenterlive.org/.

PARKING/DIRECTIONS: http://www.artscenterlive.org/index.php?a=About Us&b=Directions.

NOTE: On July 17th, there will be a Meet-the-Artists post-show discussion with the cast, directors, and production team, followed by a reception.

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