Interpersonal Encounters

Brief Encounters

While not adhering to any particular theme, the playbill for Brief Encounters: A Festival of One-Act Plays at the Lake Worth Playhouse promises several potentially seductive scripts. Of the 18 one-act plays performed throughout the festival, several deal with interpersonal relationships. Seduction, obsession, and betrayal are just a few of the themes that these plays explore.

In Art of Dating by Jeffrey Scott Elvell, two relationship counselors meet to discuss terms for their respective clients, but their interest in one another wins out. Steve Fabian's The Dinosaur Sleeps at Midnight tells the story of a college graduate whose entire world is thrown off kilter when he becomes obsessed with a voluptuous woman. Incidentally, Fabian himself is not yet a college graduate. This budding young playwright is a concert pianist and a student at Florida Atlantic University. Fabian's script, along with those by two other local playwrights, Rick Harlowe and Robert Harless, was selected from among those submitted to the Playhouse's annual contest.

In addition to local talent, one can enjoy established fare from Tennessee Williams, Christopher Durang, and Lanford Wilson to contemporaries like Wendy Wasserstein and Alan Ball (who recently won an Academy Award for his screenplay American Beauty). Ball's one-act Bachelor Holiday spies on three roommates who discuss the meaning of life, death, yuppiedom, karma, and the harsh reality of their place on the food chain after witnessing the death of a mouse. And for Tennessee Williams fans, there's his Lady of Larkspur Lotion, an intriguing New Orleans tale. But there's also a bonus -- Durang's For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls, a riotous parody of Williams' The Glass Menagerie.

Albeit brief (each play runs only about 20 minutes), a one-act can be an intense and mesmerizing entrée into a variety of dramatic situations. The playbill for Brief Encounters is eclectic in setting, theme, and genre. From Nazi Germany to contemporary love to quirky observations of the writer's craft, Brief Encounters promises to be short on time, but long on humor, drama, and entertainment. During the Friday-night performances, there will be a Director's Series, which gives audience members an opportunity to ask questions and discuss the plays with the directors and cast members.

By the way, if you haven't visited the Lake Worth Playhouse, it's a must-see for historical reasons. The theater was built in 1924 by the Oakley brothers, two well known Lake Worth residents. It was the first combination vaudeville and moving-picture house in town. During the 1929 stock market crash, one of the brothers committed suicide in the theater, and rumor has it (yep, you guessed it) there's a ghost. But have no fear, the supernatural stagehand is of the friendly variety and has a special affection for patrons of the arts.

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Mia Leonin