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Ten-minute theater is a strictly take-no-prisoners affair. And if it looks easy, you try jamming an introduction, exposition, complication, crisis, climax and denouement--plus a decent punch line or two--into 600 seconds or less.

For the third year, Lynden Harris and company have culled 400 submissions from around the world into a summer evening's theatrical dim sum tray: ten ten-minute plays--by a company of ten actors--for ten bucks. Ten little worlds that undergo ten fundamental changes in less time than it takes to wash the car. Here's the countdown:

In Measuring Matthew, a young man with obsessive-compulsive disorder is torn between his girlfriend's exasperation and an open window, before two women get in a bit of role-playing--while adrift in a lifeboat--in Ship of Fools. Playwright John Yearley makes the case that some things are worse than death in Hating Beckett, before Sacco and Vanzetti face off for true--and unexpected--confessions in Night Before Last.

A married couple faces social contretemps when a dead clown shows up in the living room in Something Went Wrong, before the woman in A Thorn in Her Side attempts to elude her 25th wedding anniversary party. Woodbridge Kelly ponders a reinvented wheel in On the Natural Form. Apparently there's been some misunderstanding, when unknown inquisitors prepare to grill a subversive artist in Interrogating the Power of Art. Then, in The Rental playwright Mark Levine offers "the man of your dreams. On your birthday. For a very affordable price," before mom's teenage daughter helps her prep for a first date in Jay Hanagan's Young Love. Yearley and Hanagan will be on hand for an artists' reception Saturday night. For info, call 929-ARTS.

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