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St. John's Shorts: 66 performances of 22 shows in 10 days

Salt Teeth Theatre Company’s “Cookstown” is a standout show thus far at the St. John’s Short Plays Festival.
Salt Teeth Theatre Company’s “Cookstown” is a standout show thus far at the St. John’s Short Plays Festival. - Contributed

The St. John’s Short Plays Festival continues in the capital city this week, giving local drama enthusiasts a unique opportunity to “binge watch” theatre.

Having seen 11 of the 22 plays showing throughout Sept. 6-16, I’ve been one of those binge-watchers, taking in six shows on opening night, two repeat and one fresh performance on Sunday, Sept. 9 and another four shows on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

Tuesday’s program began with “Masquerade,” a short, short play from Open Theatre Company and From Nowhere. The stage lights illuminated five masked figures, with a fairy-like woman in the middle. It is her perfect world, where she bounces from person to person, glamourizing herself with various beauty products along the way.

As the tribal drums soundtrack become more frenzied, so does our protagonist, removing her makeup and flashy clothes to reveal her true self. Perhaps a commentary on the way we outwardly present ourselves to the world, this short was thought provoking, though it strangely inspired me to reapply my lipstick between performances.

SW|FT’s “Resurrecting Mary,” a one-woman show starring Wendi Smallwood, was second on the bill. Having performed this role in Toronto in June with Women From the Future, Smallwood was on fire, bringing equal parts wit and wisdom to the role.

Reluctantly celebrating her 54th birthday, Mary is lamenting the process of aging, showing particular disdain for vaginal dryness and online dating. I found myself wondering how much of Mary’s character was Smallwood’s hilarious personality shining through — definitely a great casting choice for this role.

The last of the 7 p.m. run was a remarkably funny offering from Salt Teeth Theatre Company.

Drawing inspiration from the local term “skeet,” “Cookstown” tells the story of an inopportune meeting between a man trying to get home to his pregnant girlfriend and a “skeet” attempting to rob him.

The two men are known to each other, and the situation becomes simultaneously awkward and hysterically funny, and oddly reminiscent of a 2013 court case in which an armed robber was apprehended after the man he robbed recognized the assailant’s voice because he used to date his mother.

I laughed back then, and I laughed even harder at writer/actor Darren Ivany’s latest town-inspired creation. This was a standout show from the festival thus far.

Kicking off the 9:30 p.m. shows was Open Theatre Company’s “Albert Redux,” a reimagining of “Albert,” a character from the mind of Andy Jones.

Starting with a short excerpt from the old film, we are reintroduced to the title character, and catch up with him in current times, his old budgie bird pal no longer alive to lend an ear to Albert’s ramblings.

Recalling childhood memories and office woes, present-day Albert is seemingly not too far removed from his younger self — still questioning his place in the world, as many of us do throughout our lives.

The next two shows were not quite as existential. I opted out of the repeat performances of “First Date,” having reviewed it on opening night, and “My Pet Rock,” after seeing the show on Sunday night.

The Tuesday remounting was the same — a staged reading of a two-hander show, featuring looming voiceovers for Iggy, the sentient and telepathic igneous rock. Simultaneously lighthearted and darkly deranged, this Engine Productions and Under The Bridge Productions show inspired much laughter, the simple plot line proving to be ingenious.

With four days left to go, there’s still time to get out there and binge watch some theatre, with 33 performances hitting the stage between Sept. 12-16.

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