Theatre companies are always on the lookout for performance space. There are just not enough venues to house all the groups that have sprung up in the last few years. Even veteran companies have to sometimes choose unusual settings for their productions. Such is the case with briefs, a festival of short lesbian and gay plays, which was performed at La Perla (February 24-26, 2012), which has probably seen more wedding receptions and private parties than play festivals over the years. However, the issue of space proved to be a non-factor, as a simple stage and just enough chairs allowed the festival to flourish, regularly selling out for every performance. I found it to be an enjoyable and entertaining excursion, myself, and was grateful for the opportunity to see an evening of short plays that centered around the subject of homosexuality, but brought to light different aspects than we're used to seeing.
Ladies Room (written by Carolyn Gage and directed by Annamaria Pileggi) addressed gender identification and how some people judge the sexuality of others based on the clothes they wear. Shiny Pair of Complications (written by J. Stephen Brantley and directed by Edward Coffield) was probably my favorite, with a father and son getting his father ready for his wedding to his gay lover. The dialog and interplay between the performers was sparkling. Madrigal in Black and White (written by Patricia Montley and directed by Vanessa Roman) offering up a “meet cute” between a white teacher and the African American woman parked in her subdivision that she initially finds suspicious. Though a bit forced, any play that can manage to squeeze in a reference to the cult-classic film Cleopatra Jones is a winner in my estimation. The Date (written by Joan Lipkin and directed by Michael Perkins) closed the first set of plays in fine fashion, offering up a humorous and touching take on a gay couple's first date.
After an intermission, the evening continued with Write this Way (written by Donna Hoke and directed by Ed Reggi), whose story centered around a blocked writer getting his muse back, with his characters coming to life and dictating their own sexual identities and proclivities. Partners (written by E.M. Lewis and directed by Bonnie Black Taylor) followed a lesbian couple where one is a member of the police department. She invites her partner over for dinner and it shows that same sex couples have to deal with the same sort of stresses and anxieties as straight couple do when their mate is on the police force. The humorous and provocative Attack of the Dorothies (written by J.E. Phelan and directed by Joan Lipkin) ended the festival, exposing the homophobic nature of some heterosexual couples, who worry that allowing things like gay marriage and the blasting of techno music will lead everyone to turn gay.
The entire cast did a superb job, with especially strong work turned in by Bob Harvey and Troy Turnipseed, Ken Haller, Daniel John Kelly, Donna Weinsting and Bobbie Williams. Ariel Saul, Kylie Gregory, Erin Vlasaty, Dana Sims, Reginald Pierre, Lola Van Ella, Shane Mullen, Elizabeth Graveman, Wendy Renee Greenwood, Robert Lee Davis, III, Chuck Lavazzi and Theresa Masters also contributed noteworthy performances.