A nice short, satisfying stop during the long New York theatrical season..first-rate acting...showcases the intense and satisfying work of seven playwrights...each packs a wallop

To stay on top of the theatrical world in New York City right now, theatre aficionados must be doing two things: 1) crawling through the night time cabaret circuit, where performers, musicians, and lyricists are thriving, and 2) keeping up with the large volume of interesting off- and off-off-Broadway shows happening from the Seaport all the way up to the Bronx. I’ll omit taking in Broadway shows from this short requirements list on the assumption that the commercial theatrical world lives in a world of its own; detached, sometimes thriving, sometimes rewarding. Visiting this world is a necessity, but it is only a small part of the rich theatrical fabric of the city. This review, of the WorkShop Theatre Company’s Super Shorts currently playing as part of the company’s one-act festival in their Jewel Box Theatre, falls under the second category: off- off-Broadway.

Super Shorts, a collection of one-act work from the company, is reason enough for fans of theatre in New York City to heed number two, above. The theatre, located on West 36th Street near Penn Station, is similar in size to my one-bedroom apartment in Queens, which I like to call, “just one room short of spacious.” With approximately 40 seats in the blackbox playing space (there is a larger theatre within the small complex), this is the type of theatre experience where the audience is likely to feel as much performance anxiety as the actors. With the action taking place a few small steps away from the front row, one is likely to wonder things like, “Can that actor tell that I’m staring at him?” or “If I itch my nose will it distract the actress on the floor crying?” Silly-sounding, of course. But these are the issues at play when you’re witnessing theatre in a 20”x 20” foot room.

It is exactly that intimacy, however, that makes Super Shorts so enjoyable. In addition to some first-rate acting (Emily Zacharias is the best Southern-gal telephone fundraiser you have seen on stage; Tom Berdik and Cliff Miller both deliver complicated and formidable performances), the production showcases the intense and satisfying work of seven playwrights. Each one-act play is short (approximately 10-15 minutes) and each packs a wallop and delivers its own one-two-punch. Notable standouts include “Thalassa” by Scott C. Sickles and “One for the Road” by Tom Berdik.

With a running time less than 90 minutes and a brief intermission, it’s an easily digestible evening of theatre worth the small ticket price ($15.00-$18.00) – a nice short, satisfying stop during the long New York theatrical season.

J. Ryan
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