Shorts weather begins with “Summer Shorts: Flipping the Script”

Diana Garle, seated in chair, left, Alex Alvarez, standing, Toddra Brunson, seated on sofa, left, Kimberly Vilbrun-Francois, seated on sofa, right, seated, in This Week In The Land Of Democracy Photo by Morgan Sophia Photography

By Oline Cogdill

The calendar dictates the official start of summer—this year it’s June 20—but for avid theater goers the season really kicks off with the first production of City Theatre’s Summer Shorts. The season definitely has begun with “Summer Shorts: Flipping the Script” running through June 23 in the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater in downtown Miami.

Now in its 27th year, Summer Shorts celebrates those plays that are around 10-minutes in length, yet pack in character development and story arcs in that time. The eight original plays making their debut in “Summer Shorts: Flipping the Script” include four by South Florida playwrights nurtured in City Theatre’s Homegrown project inaugurated last year. The other four were chosen from entries in the Susan J. Westfall National Short Playwriting Contest. “Summer Shorts” also nurtures young talent with its “emerging artists” lending support to the seasoned actors.

As in previous years, these short plays lean toward finding humor in the poignant situations with that twist at the end. Some plays land better than others, a couple are outstanding but all are entertaining.

“Summer Shorts” is a true repertory experience with each actor playing different characters and featured in several plays.

Kimberly Vilbrun-Francois, left, and Alex Alvarez in Dickery Pokery. Photo by Morgan Sophia Photography

“Dickery Pokery:” Written by Brandon Urrutia, directed by Karina Batchelor: One of the funniest shorts puts new meaning to the term “sex comedy” with Tony (Alex Alvarez) venturing into a Claire’s store in the mall for a free piercing as promised in a flyer. But he doesn’t want his ears pierced and his request appalls and scares the young clerk (Kimberly Vilbrun-Francois). Karina Batchelor’s smooth direction allows the comedy to breathe. And just about every man in the audience winced when that piercing gun went off.

Chris Anthony Ferrer, left, and Alex Alvarez in An Awkward Conversation In The Shadow Of Mount Moriah Photo by Morgan Sophia Photography

“An Awkward Conversation In The Shadow Of Mount Moriah:” Written by John Bavoso, directed by Steve Trovillion. The well-timed humor shows just how awkward that walk home was from the top of Mount Moriah as Abraham (Alvarez) tries to explain to Isaac (Chris Anthony Ferrer) why he almost sacrificed his son. Talk about dealing with father issues.

Therese Adelina, left, and Alex Alvarez in The Pros And Cons Of Implosion Photo by Morgan Sophia Photography

“The Pros And Cons Of Implosion:” Written by R.D. Murphy, directed by Trovillion. This deeply emotional outing illustrates how grief takes different forms. Allie (Therese Adelina) is a brilliant high school senior who knows more about cars than most mechanics. She can’t understand why her neighbor (Alvarez) has let his Volvo rust in his garage for 20 years while the car reminds him “when I was an us.”

Chris Anthony Ferrer, left, Devon Dassaw, center, and Diana Garle in Search For An Ending Photo by Morgan Sophia Photography

“Search For An Ending:” Written by Karissa Murrell Myers, directed by Carey Brianna Hart. Diana Garle is the only woman screenwriter in the room with colleagues played by Devon Dassaw and Ferrer, who insist on mansplaining how the female character should feel in the movie they are writing. Garle’s character is obviously the smartest person in that writers’ room. But do they listen?

Toddra Brunson, left, amd Kimberly Vilbrun-Francois, right, in Leaving Jamaica Photo by Morgan Sophia Photography

“Leaving Jamaica:” Written by Nerissa Street, directed by Hart. Vibrun-Francois plays a brilliant student about to leave her home in Jamaica to study in London, but her mother, played by Toddra Brunson, and sister, Francian Sonique, keep pushing her to take food and the biggest dutch oven ever made with her. A lovely tale about letting go, growing up and leaving home without abandoning your roots.

Chris Anthony Ferrer, left, Devon Dassaw, center, and Diana Garle in Swordfish Grilled (So I Don’t Get Sued) Photo by Morgan Sophia Photography

“Swordfish Grilled (So I Don’t Get Sued):” Written by Maleeha Naseer, directed by JC Gutierrez. Different personalities of the Swordfish Bistro’s staff emerge as they get ready to open this West Kendall neighborhood for the day. But nothing is ordinary as they bicker, share secrets and wonder what to do about the ladies restroom. The harried staff includes Adelina, Dassaw, Ferrer, Garle and Alvarez.

Therese Adelina in Manic Pixie Dream Girl Photo by Morgan Sophia Photography

“Manic Pixie Dream Girl:” Written by Rhiannon Ling, directed by Sabrina Lynn Gore. None of us are the same person we were as teenagers—interests, personalities, goals change as we age. Friends since high school, Manic Pixie Dream Girl (Adelina), Gay Best Friend (Dassaw), Gamer Boy (Ferrer) and Seductress (Garle) have regular video chats using the personas they’ve been known as. Each is afraid of admitting how they have changed, fearing they’d lose the friendship. Then Manic Pixie Dream Girl falls for a football player.

Toddra Brunson, left, seated, Kimberly Vilbrun-Francois, right, seated, Alex Alvarez, standing, in This Week In The Land Of Democracy Photo by Morgan Sophia Photography

“This Week In The Land Of Democracy:” Written by Brittany “bk” King, directed by Gore.  Sisters, played by Vibrun-Francois and Brunson, settle in to eat pizza and test a computer program when an algorithm meant to show the kind of world we could have goes wacky. Garle, Alvarez and Adelina lend their dubious support.

The acting in “Summer Shorts: Flipping the Script” is universally superior with each actor in this ensemble smoothly moving from different characters as dictated by the scripts. Audiences are used to solid work by Garle and Alvarez and it’s inspiring to see the range exhibited by Dassaw, Ferrer, Vibrun-Francois, Toddra Brunson and Adelina. The directors’ flawless interpretations keep the production moving

Kudos to the young staff in charge of changing the scenery. True, sets are simple—a few chairs, a couple of couches, roadside directions to Mount Moriah and a mall store—but these are changed seamlessly and fast. Production values enhance “Summer Shorts” with scenic design by Jodi Dellaventura, projection design by Steven Covey, lighting by Eric Nelson, sound by Ernesto K. Gonzalez and costumes by Dario Almiron.

It’s definitely shorts weather as “Summer Shorts: Flipping the Script” proves.

“Summer Shorts: Flipping the Script” runs through June 23 in the Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 3 p.m.  Saturday and Sunday. Running time 105 minutes with one 15-minute intermission. Tickets $50-$75. Call 305-949-6722 or


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