20th Summer Shorts Even More Consistently Funny & Poignant

SSlgBy Bill Hirschman,, Special to, June 17, 2015 – A nervous air passenger drives an off-duty pilot crazy with her worry about crashing, a Haitian immigrant wrestles with the cost of assimilation, a loving couple is depicted at two stages of their relationship – simultaneously, the new management of a previously buttoned down company seems to prefer employees who are puppets – literally.

Intriguing premises are the jumping off points for the nine flights of theatrical whimsy in City Theatre’s annual festival of short plays,Summer Shorts. While no discernable thread runs through the disparate works, the deftly comic playlets are shot through with a striation of poignancy, and the moving entries are leavened with flashes of humor.

Although the evening encompasses the work of multiple playwrights, four directors and a repertory cast of six chameleons, the evening has a unified tone of warmth and polish.

This is no mean feat; most short play festivals around Florida and the country have at least one or two mediocrities and one what-were-they-thinking choices that looked better on paper than on the boards. But continuing an upward trend during Producing Artistic Director John Manzelli’s leadership, this unusually consistent production scores as arguably the best written, produced and acted entry in the festival’s 20-year run.