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The critical challenges of 10 By 10 In The Triangle



It's not just symbiosis: What a script finds and brings out of directors and actors is sometimes far greater than the sum of their separate strengths. Some of the most mystifying—and rewarding—moments I've spent in a theater came when I truly couldn't begin to discern where the greatest contribution was: in direction, acting or script. That task can be difficult enough over the course of a full-length play. When you have only 10 minutes and one viewing, it can be appreciably harder.

That's one of the critical challenges of 10 By 10 In The Triangle, the region's yearly (and now international) festival of 10-minute plays at The ArtsCenter. Its 11th iteration has reserved no spaces for regional playwrights and downplayed, at least to some degree, last year's emphasis on sketch comedy.

Good move. When sketches, cast and directors weren't in sync, we saw miscalculations such as the belabored opener It's What's For Dinner and After You. Playwright Matt Fotis' Oedipus: The Prequel seemingly had promise, but a balky reading marred the closing Sunday afternoon.

In the festival's strongest works, director Michael O'Foghludha and actors David Berberian and Leanne Heintz explored the absurdity and poignance of the life two climate-obsessed geeks put together in Jonathan Yukich's A Short History of Weather. If the odds were against playwright Peter Snoad convincing us that his Perfect Strangers could become so much less so in so short a time, director Julie Tomkovick and actors Berberian and Laurel Ullman navigated any plausibility issues in an equally moving production. Perfect Strangers was the work that most made me want to see a full-length version, preferably with these actors in it.

Tyler McClain's Northern Lights and K. Alexa Mavromatis' The Quiz also seemed like scenes from larger—but somewhat more predictable—works. The former featured strong performances from actors Ullman and Brandon Garegnani; the latter, from Heintz and Page Purgar.

Under Chris Chiron's direction, Mary Rowland teased Fred Corlett mercilessly in Mark Harvey Levine's amusing Misfortune. Finally, there's no telling if Rick Park's Please Report Any Suspicious Activity would have had the same convulsive appeal if Nilan Johnson hadn't nailed an improbable but devastating musical theater riff in mid-show. But he did, and it did; it was one of several fortunate meetings between stage and page artists this time out.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Fair weather."

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