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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Two Great Shorts on a Program of Seven

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The Village Playhouse of Wauwatosa continues its long-lived Original One Act Festival. With a minimal set against a Cream City brick backdrop, two and a half hours pass like 90 minutes. As with most shorts programs, it's kind of a mix. The 28th annual festival has a couple of good bits.

Alejandra Gonzalez is compelling as a girl looking to move far away from the Midwest to go to college in Annetta L. Martin's Maps.

Niko King plays an attendant at an information kiosk with remarkably specific details on how to achieve happiness in Information Station.

One of the two best shorts on the program has Clarence Aumend and Sharon Nieman-Kobert as husband and wife awoken by a very, very significant call in Late Night Phone Call. It's a straight-ahead drama that is cleverly concise. Playwright Jack Douthitt delivers a story that’s lean, simple and well executed.

Erico Ortiz has warmth and wit as the title character of The Great Jimmy Boyle. He's a man who works in telesales from his own home. Sarah Oldenburg is a lot of fun as his romantic interest—a woman young enough to be his daughter who wears a name patch to work. Normally it can be really difficult to make a romance like that work onstage, but Ortiz and Oldenburg manage the right delicate balance to make it successful. Things become complicated for them when a brilliantly poised Jamee Lenzen shows up as an extremely precise lawyer to discuss an inheritance with them. For me, this one and Late Night Phone Call were more than enough to make the rest of the festival worth it.

The Village Playhouse of Wauwatosa's Original One Act Festival 2013 continues through June 22 at Carte Blanche Studios, 1054 S. Fifth St. For tickets, call 414-207-4879 or visit oneactfestival@villageplayhouse.org.