Intimate Exchanges, Janus Theatre, at Vail Street Cafe. This collection of six short plays from the Humana Festival in Louisville includes both comedies and dramas, but humor is definitely the Janus Theatre's strong suit. Performing Dolores Whiskeyman's So Tell Me About This Guy, Patricia True and Roberta Mulder are wonderfully expressive as women who know each other well enough to communicate without finishing sentences or, as far as the audience can tell, actually saying what they mean. In Joan Ackermann's Quiet Torrential Sound, Mulder makes another convincing comic appearance as the quietly content sister of an energetic but repressed culture snob. And in Christopher Graybill's Go Look, True and Jason Creighton work the jokes well but can't pull off the tension in this piece about primal instincts, victims, and predators.
Failure to make the drama palpable is a problem overall. Directed by Sean Patrick Hargadon and Terence Domschke, these short plays are fast paced--which usually works well for comedy but shortchanges scripts with something deeper to say like Charles Forbes's Courting Prometheus. The actors simply don't slow down long enough to let a moment or emotion have any impact. And the staging in this tiny cafe is infuriating. Scene partners regularly block one another from view, and one side of the audience is unable to see dramatic moments in Brian Christopher Williams's Token to the Moon and Rich Orloff's August Afternoon.