Spotlight: Bedlam Community Ten-Minute Play Festival

Experimental theater for the short-attention span set

Stepping through the door at the hole-in-the-wall Bedlam Theatre has always felt a bit like walking into a communal dream--the shows in the space are, as a rule, free-associative and transgressive in a manner that larger theaters might like to try but can't. This weekend the Bedlam company invites outside artists into the club with its fourth annual Ten-Minute Play Festival, which features 14 short works (hence the title) that take on an appropriately diverse range of subject matter, scale, and tone. The proceedings are divided up into two sets of seven plays each, with Set A playing Wednesday and Friday, and Set B playing Thursday and Saturday. A look through the advance notice reveals that theatergoers can expect a quickie noir, a "Forensics Death Match" between longtime enemies Minnetonka and Woodbury, a sleaze-fest soap opera, and the medieval burning at the stake of a heretic who adheres to belief in the existence of extraterrestrials. Probably the best thing about this kind of work is that these are ideas which might well prove unbearable when spun out in a traditional two-hour theatrical evening, but in truncated format they can make their fragmentary point and then move on. While one might not want to plan a weekend night around Mister Fister's Lost and Found, for instance, which promises to tell the story of a transvestite's life's journey from Catholicism to the Police Academy to a resolution at a backyard barbecue (wait, I almost convinced myself that I did want two hours of that), one would be none the poorer for granting the show one-sixth of an hour. I, for one, am intrigued by the possibilities of The Bartender Mixes Magic Light by Peter Papadopoulos, which claims to take two representatives of "Homoerectus Americanus Urbanis" on a mind-quest from the base to the transcendent, with a drink-slinger as their libation-based yogi.

 
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