Festivals of very short plays are generally a mixed bag, gimmicky, with a lot of laughs and an occasional gem. So it is with the current edition of Future Tenant's Future Ten 9: 10 Minutes 'Til Doomsday. The eight one-acts tend to be internally inconsistent, often classifiable as comedy skits, but nothing painful.
Most genuinely an actual play is Christopher Kent's study of growing up, of the man leaving behind the things of a child. The hitch in his "Under the Bed," sensitively directed by John Lane, is that the "things" is a literal "thing": the monster under the bed who has become best buddy and confidante long after childhood. In a near-permanent snit, Matt Henderson makes the cuddly Balkazar's petulance part of his charm. Robert Raedner stands well as straight man.
Certainly the most clever bit of the evening is Damian Synadinos' "Effect and Cause," an amusing puzzle for the audience that I dare not disclose. But I can certainly applaud the metaphorical juggling act by director Joanna Lowe and the bizarre demands effected by Fred Betzner as the scientist, Joe Lyons as his buddy, and Joel Ambrose as the graceful waiter under awkward circumstances.
Other delectable morsels include Jay Koepke's "The Oak Tree," a response (antidote?) to Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree," directed by Todd Betker; Cara and Austin Steinmetz's over-the-top take on comic-book heroes, "Super Fired," directed by Don DiGiulio; and Joe Lyons' even more extreme "Journey to the End of the Night of the Titanic Dragon Monsters." DiGiulio directs the panorama that delivers lots of chuckles if very little sense.
Rounding out the intimate evening are Christopher Kent's precariously pretentious "Hamlet Cows," directed by Lowe; Sharon Goldner's touching if unbalanced "Mrs. Greenblatt's Place in the Universe," directed by Lane; and the obvious comedy of Philip Kaplan's "Last Words," directed by Bettker.
If not quite apocalyptic, Future Ten 9: 10 Minutes 'Til Doomsday at least guarantees that if you don't like one play, it'll be over soon and there are more laughs on the way.