Thursday, January 17, 2013


The philosophy behind the Santa Cruz Actors' Theatre's annual short play festival, 8 Tens @ Eight, has always been what I call the Bus Theory: if one play doesn't get you where you want to go, there'll be another one along in 10 minutes. What's great about this year's festival is that the quality of the plays overall is so high. Not one of this year's eight ten-minute plays ever runs completely out of gas; all are well-written, well-acted, and cleverly staged, and most have a story arc that delivers the viewer to a valid destination.

This year's Double-Threat award goes to Ian McRae. He's very funny as Phineas P. Japester, a cigar-chomping drill instructor in Dan Borengasser's Clown Camp, directed with pizzazz by Marcus Cato; in his red nose, fright wig, and fatigues, Japester trains a platoon of raw recruits in the art of being a bozo. ("No irony!" he warns them. "No satire! No bon-mots!")

McRae also scores as the author of Dudes Like Us, a funny, wistful, wholly engaging meditation on surfing, aging, life, and even language as a couple of veteran surf buddies (the wonderful Steven Capasso and Rick Kuhn) trying out paddleboards for the first time. Bill Peters' inventive staging places the actors on pedestals, painted to suggest boards, on an empty stage. It works beautifully (right down to the water they occasionally splash over their heads). (Read more)

Only two more weekends to go, so click here for ticket info.

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