OdysseyStage Theatre and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum have joined forces this year to bring the Triangle NC 10 by 10: A Festival of 10-Minute Plays, which plays July 19-22 at The ArtsCenter of Carrboro and July 26-28 at The Cary Theater in Cary. For the uninitiated, this event normally showcases ten 10-minute plays, selected from entries submitted from around the country. This year’s producers — John Paul Middlesworth, Annie Taft, and Lydia Sbityakov — decided to keep it local, and asked only North Carolina-based playwrights to make play submissions. Knowing that the shows are locally grown made the evening extra special, and the opening-night crowd on was bursting with Carolina pride on Thursday, July 19th.
The great thing about a 10-minute play is that if something isn’t your cup of tea, you know it will be over in 10 minutes. The bad thing about a 10-minute play is that if it is your cup of tea, it is over in 10 minutes! Ten plays in one evening for me, however, is really 10 times the fun!
In order to put on 10 different plays, the set has to be flexible. The simple backdrop created by John Paul Middlesworth, Jeff Nugent, and Marty Fitzpatrick easily morphed into a restaurant, a hospital, and the deep Carolina woods — with the help of Kei Mizoobuchi’s lighting and sound, that is.
This year’s offerings were stellar, but there were several personal and fan favorites. In Socky Tells All, written by Rollin Jewett and directed by Nicola Lefler, long-time hospital patient Andy and his Sock Monkey are meeting a new doctor for the first time. “Socky” seems to know all sorts of things about the new doctor, including the fact that he has a drinking problem. When the shocked doctor demands to know how Andy discovered this very personal information, Andy claims that Socky told him. A psychic sock monkey? A psychic kid? A psychotic kid? If none of these, then how could Andy possibly know these very personal things about his new physician?
Ol’ Jack Spooks the Devil, written by Ed Southern and directed by Fred Corlett, was another treat; and I’m not saying that just because my dear friend and fellow reviewer Kurt Benrud was in the cast. No really, cause Ol’ Jack was a crowd favorite, too. The Br’er Rabbit-esque tale of Jack’s meetup with the wily Beelzebub in the Carolina woods makes you wonder who will get to keep Jack’s soul.
The Devil being, well, the Devil, he tries every trick in the book to get Jack’s soul; and Jack happily demurs. When the Devil asks Jack if he would like some riches, Jack, wearing rags and in bare feet, responds plainly that he doesn’t want riches, because it seems to him that once you have riches, you just want more riches; and besides, where would he put the riches, since he had no place to put any riches, since he doesn’t even have a house. Of course, the Devil tells Jack that he will provide a place to store the riches, to which Jack again demurs, because then he would have to clean it, and so on. The cat-and-mouse game continues, much to the chagrin of the Devil. The gleam in his eye made me think that old Jack, just like Br’er Rabbit, was a lot smarter than that old Devil.
In Theater More Like Baseball, written by Mark Cornell and directed by Jane Underhill, James has been brought to the theater with close friends Gaby and Sean. While waiting for the show to start, a hungry James starts wondering why there aren’t hotdog vendors in the theater, just like at a baseball game. His friends, who are avid theatergoers, explain why that would disrupt the show and ruin the production. But James claims it would make the theater better. And thus starts a hilarious discussion amongst the friends about how making attending the theater more like going to see baseball would be an improvement.
What if you could heckle the actors!?! Buy a beer to drink in your seat? Keep score? Evit Emerson’s James was terrific, grounding the show with just the right amount of humor to temper the bittersweet revelations to follow. And his fellow actors, Abby Overton and Drew Gulino, were the perfect foils for his antics.
Runner Up: Rocking the Board, written by Laura Arwood. Two women in bad marriages, one young, one old, one pregnant and angry, one mellowed by time, are brought together by the sale of a boat neither knew about; and during their brief meeting, learn a lot about life from one another. Under director Ken Wolpert’s deft hand, Lisa Levin and Kelly McDaniel were the embodiment of these two tough ladies.
Finally, a shout-out to Christine Rogers in When the Wolfbane Blooms by Wim Coleman. I hope to see more from her really soon, as she was terrific as the professor.
From the Department of Picky-Picky: OMG, the heat at The ArtsCenter! I was seated in the top section of the theater, and the heat became unbearable. Programs quickly became fans for most in my area, and I lost some seatmates because of it. (Note to The ArtsCenter: Please address the lack of air-conditioning in the venue.) Also, the intermission was cut short with little notice to the audience, leaving patrons fumbling to find their seats in the dark and the actors having to start of the next play in the midst of the confusion. But I trust this was a small opening-night glitch in timing that won’t be repeated.
I highly recommend the fare of this year’s 10-minute play festival. To share the love, NC 10 by 10 will be at The ArtsCenter tonight and tomorrow afternoon, and will move to The Cary Theater in Cary on July 26-28. Come figure out your own favorites! Time’s a-wastin’!
SECOND OPINION: July 20th Raleigh, NC CVNC review by Alan R. Hall: https://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=9052; July 17th Cary, NC Cary Citizen preview by Michael Papich: http://carycitizen.com/2018/07/17/ten-plays-in-one-night-at-the-cary-theater/; July 11th Raleigh, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/nc-10-by-10/Event?oid=14930211; July 10th Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts and Entertainment preview by Susie Potter: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2018/07/cary-playwrights-forum-odysseystage-present-nc-10-by-10-a-festival-of-10-minute-plays/; and July 7th Raleigh, NC News & Observer mini-preview by Roy C. Dicks: https://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/article214205869.html.
OdysseyStage Theatre and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum present NC 10 BY 10: A FESTIVAL OF 10-MINUTE PLAYS at 8 p.m. July 21 and 3 p.m. July 22 in the Earl & Rhoda Wynn Theater at The ArtsCenter of Carrboro, 300-G E. Main St., Carrboro, North Carolina 27510; and 7:30 p.m. July 26 and 27 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. July 28 at The Cary Theater, 122 E. Chatham St., Cary, North Carolina 27511.
TICKETS: $18 evenings and $15 matinees.
Carrboro: 919-929-2787 or https://artscenterlive.secure.force.com/ticket/#details_a0S36000006fvWoEAI.
Cary: 919-462-2055 or https://www.etix.com/ticket/e/1002445/on-stage-at-the-cary-cary-the-cary.
Carrboro: http://www.odysseystage.org/ and http://www.caryplaywrightsforum.org/?page_id=3470, https://www.facebook.com/events/341641116323650/, and http://artscenterlive.org/performance/nc-10-by-10-a-festival-of-10-minute-plays/.
Cary: http://www.odysseystage.org/ and http://www.caryplaywrightsforum.org/?page_id=3470, https://www.facebook.com/events/341641116323650/, and http://thecarytheater.com/event/nc-10by10-presented-by-cary-playwrights-forum/.
OdysseyStage Theatre: http://www.odysseystage.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/OdysseyStage/.
Cary Playwrights’ Forum: http://www.caryplaywrightsforum.org/, https://www.facebook.com/CaryPlaywrights/, and https://twitter.com/CaryPlaywrights.
The ArtsCenter of Carrboro: http://www.artscenterlive.org/, https://www.facebook.com/artscenterlive, and https://twitter.com/ArtsCenterlive (parking and accessibility: http://artscenterlive.org/about/#visitor-info).
The Cary Theater: http://thecarytheater.com/, https://www.facebook.com/thecarytheater/, and https://twitter.com/TOC_Fun (directions/parking: http://thecarytheater.com/plan-your-visit/).
Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.