Got a short attention span? A show that runs through Dec. 15 at Oregon Contemporary Theatre is just your ticket.
Bunfight! features eight new 10-minute plays from a pair of local playwrights — four each by Paul Calandrino and Rachael Carnes. Directors Inga R. Wilson and Elizabeth Helman likewise split the card, with each taking on four shows that draw from a pool of familiar actors.
Styled, a little oddly, as an eight-round boxing match, right down to the announcer and bell, this all provides a fast-moving evening’s entertainment.
My picks for the evening’s two winners: Carnes’ “Join the Movement” and Calandrino’s “Left Turn.”
In “Join the Movement,” a quick, sharp farce directed by Wilson, Alison (Hillary Ferguson) is invited by her friend Julie (Chelsey Megli) to a leggings party, which turns out to be a kind of hippie cult of success whose motto might be “Keep calm and drink wine.” In Carnes’ sharp depiction, the colorful group, led by Peach (Eric Braman), pressures the drab Alison to join up, until — well, go see for yourself.
Calandrino’s “Left Turn,” also directed by Inga Wilson, imagines that middle-aged, middle-class Donovan (Tom Wilson), who is apparently stuck in life, has also been stuck in traffic, waiting to make a left turn, for 13 years. Say what? Sounds like “Charlie and the MTA,” especially when his wife, Rachel (Megli), delivers dinner. The absurdist scenario plays out perfectly thanks to Tom Wilson’s dry wit and bland delivery.
The other plays on the card include Carnes’ “Ripple,” “Contrapposto” and “Cornucopia” and Calandrino’s “Senator Lovechild and the Mudmen of Western Tennessee,” “Pursuit of Happiness” and “Cascadia.”
The night I watched Bunfight!, an electrical glitch forced the show to go on under houselights, giving the theater all the ambiance of a supermarket. No matter. The show is so engaging that within a minute, no one noticed or cared — which makes theater itself the winner of the evening. ν