BWW Reviews: SHARON'S SHORTS at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity

BWW Reviews: SHARON'S SHORTS at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity

This Friday, I had the opportunity to check out SHARON'S SHORTS. Written by Sharon Cooper and directed by Joanna Strange as a part of the 4th Annual Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. The Festivity opened May 30th and runs through June 24th at the Robert Moss Theatre.

SHARON'S SHORTS are five ten-minute plays that were written over seven years by Cooper. Each short takes a glance into the subtle moments that define the main character of the piece, as well as the choices they make that profoundly change their lives forever. Each vignette ranges from the surreal to the painfully real. I found them quirky with a modern feel. I also found the comedy in each piece executed elegantly.

"Occupied" is about a woman who demands what she is owed from her bank on a desperate Christmas Eve. As a customer of the bank in which Cooper's "Bank of the People" is most likely based on, this piece hit hilariously close to home. "Painting Seventeen" is the story of Saskia, who at the age of 30, paints a portrait of herself at the age of 17. This piece brings up an interesting idea. What happens if we are faced with presenting our future (as ugly as it might be) to our younger more hopeful self? Could we do it?

"The Match" tells the story of roommates and aspiring actors. Old feuds resurface and the piece ends on a predictably tragic Shakespearean note. "Siriously" is the story of newly single Paul. He is facing his future on New Years Eve. The piece takes an interesting turn when Paul realizes that his future is far brighter than his newly engaged friend, Nick. Maybe being alone with your smart phone isn't so bad?

The most interesting piece is "Wish You Were Here My Love", a vignette based on a real episode of "This is Your Life." It's the story of Hannah Bloch Kohner, one of the first Holocaust Survivors to have her story addressed publically (on a television show to boot). Some of Cooper's pieces are predictable. Who doesn't know rich people who are arrogant? Who doesn't know a couple that doesn't know they're not happy? Nonetheless, "Wish You Were Here My Love" does in ten minutes what most playwrights cannot accomplish is two hours. Cooper creates a beautiful dramatic arc. Kohner is not a sketch. She is thoughtful, three-dimensional humanity who immediately captures our empathy and respect.

The actors in the cast should also be recognized, being that in many cases they pull double as well as triple duty in multiple Cooper pieces. Each of these actors (especially Hend Ayoub in the role of "Hannah Block Kohner") takes the time to give gravity to each of these characters. Five ten-minute plays truly felt like five beautifully flushed out pieces. After experiencing SHARON'S SHORTS, I have become invested in learning more of Cooper's canon. Sharon E. Cooper is truly a future playwright to watch on the American theatre scene.

The Planet Connections Theatre Festivity is an eco-friendly theatre festival. The festival seeks to inspire artists and audiences both creatively and fundamentally in a festive atmosphere. At the heart of the festivity are like-minded individuals striving to create professional, meaningful theatre, while supporting organizations that give back to the community at large. Proceeds from SHARON'S SHORTS benefit New York Cares. Planet Connections runs now through the 24th.




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