Review: Shorts Gone Wild

An Entertaining and Thoughtful Production

By Ron Levitt

Photos by Tracy Mendy
Now that gay marriage, gay rights and other LGBT issues are rightfully considered part of society’s norm, it is especially welcome to have a series of short plays that will resonate with all audiences. That is the underlying message of Shorts Gone Wild3 – a co-production of City Theatre and Island City Stage and an outgrowth of South Florida’s renowned Summer Shorts, a series of short plays currently at Empire Stage through September 6 and then moving to the Fillmore at the Jackie Gleason Theatre in Miami Beach September 10 through 13.

Although this year’s offering of the adult version of the annual summer theatre offering is gay-centric, it has enough human appeal to resonate with all adult audiences. Theatre has always been gay-friendly in its history, but the current eight playlets in this 2015 version are such good productions and so interesting in concept and so well acted, they will appeal to an entire audience without preaching. Rather they are a quick but biting look at our evolving society where gay marriage is recognized as legal along with other civil rights issues.

There are several plays which are definitely adult recommended so keep the kids at home.

Among these are I’m Going First , authored by Michael Leeds and directed by Kevin Black. It’s the most humorous playlet as two gay men jokingly discuss (just outside a funeral) if they can tell by looking at someone whether he is a “top” or a “bottom.” It stars Larry Buzzeo and South Florida’s most versatile actor Antonio Amadeo – both of whom give stellar performances, including sober discussions about long term relationships and mortality.

The most graphic presentation is Hands, authored by Becca Scholsberg and directed by Gail S. Garrison. It stars Amadeo and Craig Moody –each performing monologues in sensual detail, encompassing the relevance and sensitivity of sexual pleasure. It is definitely the most X-rated of the plays due to its frank dialog.

The Oldest Living Chorus Boy Tells All or The Last of Billy Button, authored by theatre guru Tony Finstrom and directed by Black, is a creative piece on the subject of “theatre” delivered as a commencement address to a dance school by Buzzeo. It is an ‘in” piece which theatrical buffs will love. Buzzeo, in commencement attire, delivers this monologue with sense and sensibility. Finstrom’s short play is incisive and interesting.

This year’s roster includes – In addition to Moody, Amadeo and Buzzeo – Niki Fridh, Gladys Ramirez and Christina Groom.. These six actors are guided by four directors. four designers and two producers -- john Manzelli of City Stage and Andy Rogow of Island City Stage The presentations are played in no particular order. A member of the audience pulls a number out of a hat to determine which play is delivered next. Thus, no performance is done in the same order—a Summer Shorts tradition.

Other playlets include:

My Husband written by humorist/actor Paul Rudnick. It’s about a classic Jewish mother (Groom) and her gay son (Moody). She wants her son to be married like all of her friends’ gay sons.
The Agenda written by South Florida’s award-winning actor/playwright Michael McKeever and directed by Rogow -- is the most humorous (Let’s say HILLARIOUS) of this year’s production. It’s about how a group wants to change its name to be politically correct – from LGBT to LGBTQ to LGBTQATTAT etc. It is typical McKeever humor which translates into rich laughs!

The Anthropology Section, written by Patricia Cotter and directed by Manzelli, depicts two former lovers (Fridh and Ramirez) meeting in a bookstore. Fridh is stunned to learn that Ramirez is back from her honeymoon. The two examine what went wrong with their own relationship.

Quiche and Quinoa, written by local director Stuart Meltzer and directed by Rogow, started with two old friends (Buzzeo and Fridh) awaiting a third buddy (Groom) and trying to figure out why she called them with “special news.” It is funny, especially Fridh who not only has the best lines but uses them with gusto.

The One, authored by Sheri Wilner and directed by Garrison is about two pals (Amadeo and Fridh) -- a couple who find gay lifestyles as they grew older. Amadeo and Fridh are perfect in their roles. Their acting sparkles!

This is the final show Island City Stage will produce at the Empire Stage – its home since it was founded in 2012. Its first show of next season starts in November. It will be in larger space at Infinite Abyss at 2304 N. Dixie Highway in Wilton Manors.

For ticket information call 954-519-2533.