Short plays prove wickedly funny

WICKED SHORTS

At Vancity Culture Lab at the Cultch until Oct. 9 Tickets: 604-251-1363, thecultch.com

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Wicked Shorts made its debut at Wicked Café (in the 2010 Fringe) and it's often wickedly funny. The Culture Lab setting is perfect: little tables and stools where the performers and the audience mingle and you can bring food and drinks from the wine bar into the theatre.

There are four "shorts," and it all comes in at just under an hour. Two performers-Elizabeth Kirkland and Guy Christie-morph into a different couple in each playlet. They absolutely nail every pairing: blind daters (in Matador Love); a waiter and waitress serving first-date couples (Rendez-Vous); an estranged brother and sister (You'll Probably Come Back); and a young couple considering a long-term relationship (Monsters in the Closet). There are tiny linkages-recurring use of French or the restaurant setting, for example-that give the evening a sense of cohesion. In fact, each blends into the next so seamlessly that after the first one, it takes a minute to realize Kirkland and Christie have moved on.

Matador Love kicks the evening off with a wickedly quirky blind date involving Enid, a librarian, and a cocky, spur-wearing extra in a movie. What is Enid looking for? "A man who looks good entering a room." What does he want? Sex with a librarian. Made for each other, right? Written by Morwyn Brebner, this is a hilarious script with Enid, who has been drinking for hours, throwing the f-word around like rice at a wedding. Both Kirkland and Christie are gloriously outrageous: she, hugging her little pink cardigan whilst stomping around in what he calls "whore shoes"-flashy stilettos completely out of sync with the tight little bun hairdo. He swaggers around, pelvis first, playing the sexy dude in cowboy boots.

Rendez-Vous, co-written by Kathleen Oliver and Anita Rochon sets a completely different tone and it's really a monologue; Kirkland simply brings candles to all the tables. Christie plays the waiter in a French restaurant and while he takes the imaginary first date couple's order, he has a message for each of them. "Love is never easy," is what he has learned but what he never actually tells the ever-hopeful diners.

It takes a while to figure out You'll Probably Come Back. Are these two a used-to-be couple? Who died? Writer Christopher Cook keeps us guessing, but Christie and Kirkland's performances are so engaging we're prepared to hang in until the situation is revealed.

Seth Soulstein's Monsters in the Closet is another off-the-wall story that gets even more off-the-wall when Tim confesses to his girlfriend that he's a "byclops"-a guy whose mother was a person but whose father was a Cyclops. And he kills people. Frequently. Should they continue their relationship and move it to the next level, she could quite easily, after a 20-month pregnancy, "spawn" a Cyclops, a byclops or a completely normal baby. Oh. Amazingly, the girlfriend appears to be accepting of his byclopiness, but in a lovely little twist she comes up against something that just might put the kibosh on it. Very funny.

Produced by Alley Theatre, Wicked Shorts is entertaining, undemanding and guaranteed to give you a giggle.

joled@telus.net

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