'Quickies 13' from Live Girls!
Quickies 13, the 13th installment of Live Girls! Theatre’s annual short play festival, includes seven plays about transformation and coming-of-age—all written by women. There’s a little of everything in Quickies 13: a Superman costume, sex ed videos, reincarnation. Some are more successful than others.
Among the standouts is The Sequel, written by Kathryn Funkhouse. In this play, two siblings sit down to play a mindless zombie shoot-’em-up video game. Instead, they discover that the game’s characters have minds of their own. Crazy George (Troy Lund) is a military shooter who advocates non-violence as a means to solve the zombie apocalypse. Svetlana (Mountjoy-Pepke) is the female version of him, who examines the gender politics of being a military woman. Both actors give believable, hilarious physicality to their performances. Lund exaggerates his swagger as the hyper-masculine, eye-patch-wearing veteran and Mountjoy-Pepka’s over-sexualized Eastern European soldier sways her hips to great comedic effect.
Bang-Bang Choo-Choo Train, one of two plays commissioned from Live Girls! reading series, suffers from a murky and underdeveloped conflict. Ivy (Stephanie Lynn Merrow) tries to re-live her cheerleading years through her daughter Tawnie (Erin Bednarz) and fears being replaced by her younger daughter. Their roles blur as Ivy whines about leaving and Tawnie packs Ivy’s lunch. Unfortunately, it’s tough to care because we don’t know why Ivy’s leaving or where she’s going. She repeats things like, “I deleted all of my Facebook friends except for you,” several times, but the driving problem in their relationship remains unclear.
In The Sunshower Bride, Miranda (Kaitlin Ziehr) and Ryan (Ryan Sanders) are about to get married when Miranda confesses that she’s a fox in human form. Legend says that when there’s a sun shower Miranda’s supposed to marry a tiger. Cue Chad the tiger (Santino Garcia), who challenges Ryan for Miranda’s hand. After a fight scene involving strobe lights and slip-on claws, Ryan triumphs by declaring his love for Miranda despite her imperfections, which include a yippy laugh and farting in her sleep. “So her being a fox is the least of my worries,” Ryan says. Sanders’ bewildered groom is very satisfying; we share his confusion and we root for his attempt to maintain normalcy.
Frosty re-imagines Frosty the Snowman. In this take, Frosty (Barry Brinegar) seduces Madeline (Sara Mountjoy-Pepke), the woman who brings him to life. Brinegar plays up Frosty’s sensuality (even making “I’ll melt” into a come-on) but Mountjoy-Pepke carries this play, deftly playing multiple, distinct characters (shrill little kids building the snowman, the sketchy fortune-teller with the magic hat). Her opening monologue gives cadence to Krista Knight’s poetic description of Frosty’s beautiful snow-covered setting. The play’s funniest moments are reminders that Frosty, despite his sexiness, is still a snowman—like when he tries to hold hands and his twig-arms break. Frosty is at once absurd and heartfelt.
The dramatic plays in Quickies 13 are less captivating than their comedic counterparts, which emit more energy. But the idea behind this set is variety—and the strong comedic turns keep the Quickies moving.
Quickies 13 runs through June 23 at Theatre Off-Jackson, 409 7th Ave. S. Tickets: $5-$15 online through Brown Paper Tickets.
Pictured above: Troy Lund & Sarah Mountjoy-Pepka. Photo by Meghan Arnette.