The self-imposed challenge faced by Short Attention Span Theatre: 30 short shows performed in a maximum of 60 minutes. An appealing eight-member ensemble from Tucson tackles theater performance as a quasi-athletic completion. If they can accomplish the feat within an hour, the cast gets to munch on a bag of candy. If the hour timer goes off before the plays are completed, the audience gets to eat the candy. Got that? Ready, set, go!
The shows are short skits, previously written by the company, numbered and posted on signs hung from a clothesline at the back of the stage. The audience calls out which numbered skit to perform next, so the actors have no idea what the order of shows will be each evening or which props and costumes need to be quickly gathered until the next piece is upon them.
Ensemble members Catherine Cosentino, Andy Gonzalez, Andrea Head, Rainey Hinrichs, Heather Meza, Elijah Renteria, Simon Ridley and emcee Keyanna Khatiblou are young, likeable performers who jump right into the fun. At times they could use a bit more volume and energy to fill the room. On opening night (aided and abetted by a quiet but appreciative audience) it took the group five or six plays to find its comic stride.
The plays are broadly written and often topically satirical, usually containing a closing ironic twist. My favorites: Illegal Ehliens, about Canadians sneaking across the U.S. border; Striptease, about a stripper who puts more clothes on rather than taking them off; and My Boyfriends’s Crazy, which is pretty self-explanatory.
Comedy can be subjective, and not every play worked for me. A couple of purposely serious pieces felt out of place, which slowed the evening’s momentum. But the beauty of the show is that, if you’re not into the play you’re watching, a different one is coming up in another minute or two.
On opening night the cast came close to victory, but the timer went off in the middle of their 30th show. So we all received bite-sized Milky Ways. My guess is that, even when they beat the timer, the audience still gets the candy. Seeing how in the course of their 30 shows the cast scarfs down Twinkies and one lucky performer gets to consume an entire small pie and chug a full bottle of Coke, they’re probably happy to oblige.
SHORT ATTENTION SPAN THEATRE will be performed 9 p.m. May 30, 7 p.m. June 2, 7 p.m. June 4 and 7 p.m. June 5 at Art Academy Commons (1212 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine).