'The 7-Minute Series' The Ontological Theater 533-4650
The simple premise has worked for the last six years: get a slew of downtown theater-makers to create eight pieces, then present all of them on the same night. No, it's not a typical day at Nada, it's the Ontological's "7-Minute Series." Most of this year's crop is more avant-good than avant-garde, choosing to go for film noirish antics rather than theatrical risks. This is, of course, a mixed blessing. On the one hand, none of the pieces is particularly unpleasant though they do get upstaged by the snappy kung-fu entr'actes by Stacy Dawson and David Neumann. On the other hand, it's a little disappointing that a horde of white college grads, given the opportunity to be obnoxious and weird, come up with such safe stuff. Ambidextrous, written by Jay Reiss of the overrated Adobe Theatre Company, is the worst offender. In this annoying skit, two leather-jacketed investigators get caught up in a wanky running joke about stage slapping as they interrogate a suspect. Meant to be annoying, Yehuda Duenyas's Seven Minutes in Heaven stars four neurotic cheerleaders who perform twisted swing-dance moves while ranting things like "I hate everything!" at the top of their lungs. Their candied anger is sophomoric yet droll, as when a panicked actor barges in and announces that nuclear bombs are falling on New York. Ken Nintzel's cartoonish Pageant brings you into an energetic and elaborate Virgin Mary factory, a giddy fin-de-siècle salad of mass production and New Age religion with several marvelous flourishes. More wistful for presex code New York than risky, Box, written by Juliana Francis and performed by Funda Duyal, is a slice-of-lowlife about a Ukrainian sex worker going about her day. Like both its heroine and the series, Box seduces quickly, but can only go so far in seven minutes.