An evening of one-act plays can serve many purposes. It can showcase the various writings of a single playwright, or it can assemble plays by different authors that share and/or illuminate a single theme. Or it can be a way for a theatre company to provide acting, writing, and directing opportunities for its members. This production seems to belong to the third category, offering us plays by eight writers with seven directors and 25 actors. In such a miscellany, the results are inevitably uneven.
In Joseph Gallo's impressionistic fragment Star Song, directed by Robert Cicchini, three friends (Vanessa Waters, Chelsea Povall, and Julie Devine) go on an adventurous bobsled ride. Safe, by James McLindon, directed by Steven Friedland, is a clever and enjoyable piece concerning an engaged couple (stylishly played by Josh Allen and Jenni Fontana) whose relations almost founder over whether or not to open a safe left in her apartment by a previous tenant. Jordan Lund directs Jerry Lambert's farcical shaggy-dog story Joey, about a married couple (Cameron Meyer and Byron Field) who have a very unusual baby (Floyd Lewis). In Saver, by Mark Harvey Levine, directed by Alli Steinberg, practical and unsentimental David (Joe Bays) wants to throw out the space-consuming but precious mementos collected by his elderly father (Ronald Hunter). The funniest of the plays is Jack Kenny's sitcomlike The Birds Sing Too Loud, directed by Elise Robertson, in which a young Hollywood commercial director (Jerry Goble) is driven to futile violence by a visit from his two hilariously critical and judgmental aunts (Bryna Weiss and Emma Messenger).
Stephen McFeely's Phyllis and Eliot, directed by Robertson, centers on lovers (Susan Ziegler and Steven O'Mahoney) whose compulsively witty sparring makes it difficult for them to come together but never quite drives them apart. The Regular Thursday Night, written, directed, and acted by Joe Bays, concerns a man whose ailing wife died during one of his regular visits with a Las Vegas prostitute (Stacy Cole). And the fantasy Moon Man, written by Jami Brandli and directed by Jack Stehlin, concerns a widow (Jill Gascoine) who is visited -- or thinks she's visited -- by the Man in the Moon (Daniel Hart Donoghue), to the discomfiture of her literal-minded son (Tom Groenwald).
It's an enjoyable evening of theatre, well-produced and engagingly acted.
Presented by and at Circus Theatricals Studio Theatre at the Hayworth,
2511 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.
Tue. 8 p.m. Jan. 29-Mar. 11.
(323) 960-1054. ww.circustheatricals.com.