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Summer Shorts

Summer Shorts: City Theatre's annual festival of short plays, a highlight of the South Florida stage scene, is back with mini comedies and dramas in all styles and sizes. Twenty playlets from one to 20 minutes long are presented in two programs, which can be taken in on separate nights or back to back with a catered meal in between. A versatile acting ensemble of nine assays all of the plays, under the direction of eight veteran directors. The fest includes a few duds among the sizzlers, but the fast pace means the next winner is only minutes away. This year's version of Summer Shorts maintains the company's signature quick, upbeat pace and breezy style, but it adds a certain political edge. A number of hot-button issues are touched upon: gay marriage, same-sex kissing, masturbation, and, with program B's "A Speedy and Public Trial," a biting, Kafkaesque critique of the Bush administration's Patriot Act. There's nothing here you couldn't find on network television; the play selection limns a cultural geography that's white, upscale, gay-friendly, and left of center. That Summer's writers are individually raising such issues might be meritorious, but overall there's something missing here, something that's missing in virtually every South Florida theater -- a willingness to honestly give voice to and examine opposing sociopolitical views. (Through June 27 at City Theatre at the University of Miami Ring Theatre, 1312 Miller Dr., Coral Gables, 305-365-5400, Also July 8 to 18 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 954-462-0222.)

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