The six plays that make up six at eight prove that bite-sized theater doesn't have to bite; all six one-acts are tasty appetizers that appeal to a broad palate—from comedy and wartime drama to social satire.
Three of the six plays were chosen from entries submitted to the seventh Annual West Coast 10-Minute Play Writing Festival, a contest founded and run by Orange County's own Jill Forbath Roden. This is the second year it's been held at Fullerton's Vanguard Theatre.
Due to the variety, there's likely something here to suit just about anyone. If the satirizing of human greed in Kyle Mercer's Fat Cats and Other Party Animals doesn't register, perhaps the harsh battlefield intensity of contest winner Ryan Kelly's Steel Springs will. At worst, you need only wait another 10 minutes to find out. It's also cool to see actors appearing throughout the performances in different roles—and pulling off radically different characters. Standouts include Louis Hale, the sin eater in Don Nigro's Sin Eaters, a Celtic-tinged piece about the unlucky person with the job of eating the sins of a dead person—who is then stoned and thrown out of the village. Hale also shines in a small part as an ecstatic, lard-munching partygoer in Mercer's Fat Cats.
While the published playwrights—Nigro, Neal Bell (Drive) and Thad Davis (Lawyers, Guns and Money)—provide the most polished and effective material, my favorite was second-place winner Mark Levine's The Rental, in which a lonely SWF is given a well-meaning but unusual gift for her 30th birthday: a rented boyfriend. What will she do with this Mr. Perfect, who, for the next 16 hours, anyway, wishes to lovingly indulge her every whim? It's a clever, heartfelt look at the travails of singleness in America.
The show is by no means flawless. It had its share of missed cues and clumsy staging, partly due to the fact that each of the six plays has its own director, some of whom are better than others at working in theater-in-the-round. But the evening rises above these few deficiencies, making this a satisfying—even occasionally sumptuous—experience.
six at eight at the Vanguard Theatre, 699-A S. State College Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 526-8007. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m. Through June 18. $15; $5 student rush tickets at curtain time.