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A Night of One-Acts: the First Collection

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A Night Of One-Acts: The First Collection, Laugh Den Productions, at Stage Left Theatre. Playwright Steve Batterson doesn't have much to say but spends a good deal of time saying it: each of his three one-acts stretches the germ of an idea into an unjustifiable 30- to 45-minute length.

S.O.S., the weakest, gives us two castaways on a desert island who find a message in a bottle from television's Gilligan, inspiring them to debate the nature of their isolation and the flawed concepts of capitalism and socialism. But the play boils down to yet another hackneyed, shallow deconstruction of a bad TV show. In The Job, a mismatched pair of cat burglars feud: one of them keeps botching the burglary by answering the phone or the door. A couple of moments are cute, and an incongruous song-and-dance sequence is amusing, but this remains little more than an overextended sketch.

I Lied shows the effects of one little fib: Ava, a college student and single mom, gets out of work by inventing a story about her brother being in a coma, inadvertently uniting a whole community. Though astutely directed by Sean Ogren and convincingly performed by an enthusiastic young ensemble, every element in Batterson's script seems borrowed from the sort of mediocre sitcom Batterson's plays could all easily become.

--Adam Langer

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