Review: Luna’s festival of 10 short plays

Two women long for their cruel childhood in "Cycles of the Moon," starring Kate Black-Regan (left) and Haley McCormick. AARON OSTER

A smorgasbord approach to theater: Luna Theater Company offers a festival of 10 10-minute plays all focused on the general theme of "Identity Crisis." Ten playwrights, nine actors, five directors, and four designers team up to create these quickies. The advantage of a smorgasbord is that you get to taste a little bit of many things; some you like, some you don’t.

Each playlet is introduced by a video of silhouettes; the actors replace their shadow figures — although in one of the plays, Shelly, a man (David Sanger) argues with his alter ego, who is represented on film.

The first act, six pieces, is subtitled "Dark Side of the Moon" (it’s Luna Theater, after all) and the second act, four, is "The Light(er) Side of the Moon." As you can imagine, the last are, more or less, comedies.

Among the best of the bunch were the longest. Telltale Signs, by Quinn D. Eli and directed by Tina Brock, is about a couple whose murdering psychopathology keeps them together. Megan Slater is especially good here. Another interesting piece is Cycles of the Moon by Jae Kramisen, directed by Michael Durkin, in which two young women (Kate Black-Regan and Haley McCormick) are nostalgic for a horrifying childhood of cruelty and neglect; their stunted psychological growth makes them want to stay babies.

Charming and funny and very contemporary is the last play. Inbox: Empty or AirPort: Scanning, by Kate Brennan and directed by Gregory Scott Campbell, features Haley McCormick and Jeremy Gable as two lonely thirtysomethings who meet in a gym; their inner thoughts are texted on the screen behind them. Also sweet was Ron Burch’s My Robs, about the many aspects of a single husband, whose wife has to negotiate them all — romantic Rob, watch-the-game Rob, tired-from-work Rob, etc.

The least satisfying were those that were too short to develop either a plot or characters; Militant by Eoin Carney, directed by Campbell, seemed to be merely a fragment of dialogue, while Little World by Joy Cutler, about Catherine the Great’s rebirth, made no sense to me whatsoever.

When the plays weren’t about relationships, they were about politics, and these were the most blatant. The Homeschooling of Jonathan Anderson, by Sean Christopher Lewis and directed by Aaron Oster, was about extremes of child-rearing theories as parents teach their son revolution. The Cosmonaut in Human Resources, by Jeremy Sony, features Mark Cairns as a Russian cosmonaut who has been "marooned in space" but who learns the corporate lesson of ruthless self-help.

Their Master’s Voice by Larry Pontius, directed by Samantha Tower, seems to be about political obedience but is probably more about being an actor; two characters try to keep up with what the voice-over (i.e., stage directions) tells them to do, but are repeatedly undermined by their own free will.

With this much variety, and actors so versatile, it’s an entertaining festival.

Identity Crisis Festival

Presented by Luna Theater Company at the Playground at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St., through Sunday. Tickets: $18-$28. Information: