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LA Theater Review

Cuts

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Given two items on which to build their 10-minute plays, in this case a pair of scissors and the concept of duplicity, the Dog Ear Playwrights have compiled an octet of one-acts ranging from the sublimely realistic to the absurdly surreal. Threaded together by well-executed scene changes and composer-multimedia coordinator Lee Osteen's amazing graphics, the whole is a visual feast even though some pieces need work.

The evening is wisely book-ended with Bryan Davidson's Blue and Joy Gregory's Finish & Trim. Directors Matt Kirkwood and Elizabeth Sampson, respectively, handle these historically based shows with touching confidence. The first focuses on an Appalachian girl (delicately played by Heather Dara Williams) whose life changed course thanks to medical science; the second recounts the horrors faced by victims of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory inferno.

Between these two moving glimpses into the human spirit lies a vast landscape of the bizarre. Katy Hickman's peek into the world of urban rooftop gardening, Nomenclature, directed by Zach Dulli, succeeds thanks only to the comic skills of actor Donne McRae. Wayne Liebman's thought-provoking Biblio, directed by Dennis Gersten, features Ann Noble as a girl-woman whose perceptible mental problems invoke an avalanche of images, including Mara Marini's hilarious Marilyn Monroe. The weirdness award goes to Jacqueline Wright for An It, directed by Mark St. Amant, in which actor Ammar Mahmood embodies the most outrageous of titular characters: an appendage-free blob who offers uncanny insights to his mental-asylum overseers.

A trio of marginal scripts rounds out the presentation. Jennifer Maisel's Soar, a rambling mother-daughter duet, stumbles over too many internal scene changes. Fabric, by Robert Fieldsteel, teases the viewer with the tale of two Victorian-era clothing designers clipping swatches from women's dresses but eventually goes nowhere. And the weakest link in the evening's chain is Leon Martell's Constructing Vegas. Directed by Derek Wade and featuring Kelly Godfrey and Kimberly Valkenaar as a pair of feuding siblings, this incomprehensible slice of life features a pair of tin snips shoehorned into the story just to qualify for inclusion.

Presented by and at the Road Theatre Company, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Mon.-Tue. 8 p.m. Feb. 5-Mar. 20. (866) 811-4111. www.roadtheatre.org.

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