Christine Dolen, Correspondent
Top of Form
The wilder version of “Summer Shorts” has turned 5 now. And over time, City Theatre’s collaboration with Island City Stage on “Shorts Gone Wild” has led to a program that’s deeper and more movingly insightful while still providing plenty of wild and woolly fun. At least, that’s what “Shorts Gone Wild 5” at the Abyss Stage in Wilton Manors looks like.
Three guys and three gals — Marquise Rogers, Lawrence Buzzeo, Jordon Armstrong, Rita Joe, Christina Groom and Sabrina Gore — jump into roles in eight short plays, impressively morphing as they move from one little comedy or drama to the next. This year’s troupe is a skillful one, and as always, one of the great pleasures of watching a “Shorts” rep company is seeing what each actor brings to very different roles.
One of the gimmicks of “Shorts Gone Wild” is that the plays are performed in random order. This year, the order is determined by a faux game show, with the actors taking turns as emcee and audience “volunteers” calling out numbers to match concealed photos that will determine which play comes next.
The gimmick is cute the first time, tedious by the last, and it doesn’t merely stretch out the evening. The directors in charge of the program — Margaret M. Ledford for City Theatre, Michael Leeds for Island City — can’t place the plays in the strongest order to create a dramatic arc for the evening. On opening night, for instance, the strongest plays got done before intermission, making the second act (with one exception) feel like an afterthought.
That said, this is a very good year for “Shorts Gone Wild.” Ledford, Leeds and fellow directors Gladys Ramirez and Matt Stabile have found the right tone for each piece and for the performances within them. Some play choices are head scratchers — “who thought thiswas going to be good?” you wonder — but a few not-quite-clunkers aren’t enough to spoil the fun.