The program for Spin, an evening of short plays commissioned by StageFarm, pictures a tornado bearing down on a farmhouse. But Spin is not a disaster; nor is it particularly natural. Playwrights Gina Gionfriddo, Elizabeth Meriwether, Adam Rapp, Mark Schultz, and Judith Thompson have written on the idea “that presentation increasingly obscures content in American discourse.” It’s not a prompt that necessarily encourages great drama, but the writers have all turned in passingly engaging works, albeit ones that share the themes and preoccupations of their previously produced plays.
America itself, however, does emerge as fairly disastrous during the show: a welter of porn, catastrophe, torture, addiction, and a little rock ‘n’ roll. In Gionfriddo’s America’s Got Tragedy, reminiscent of her After Ashley, Britney Spears and a National Guardsman appear on a game show, sharing their sorrows in hopes of a cash prize. Meriwether’s 90 Days includes a wonderfully dispiriting bout of phone sex. Rapp’s Tone Unknown concerns a guitarist who summons rapture. Nail Biter, about a Guantánamo interrogator, revisits territory that Thompson explored in Palace of the End. Schultz’s Fun, which shares the tonal unease of his other works, contains a rare tender moment, in which a young man tells the girl sharing his sofa: “Jamie, I think I would let you vomit on me any day.”