Five Minute Mile By Cone Man Running Production
33 Plays with a running time of five minutes or less
Review By H.G.Welch
Five Minute Mile by Cone Man Running Production is an oddity for theater goers. It's short attention span theater, consisting of 33 plays with a running time of five minutes or less, but only twenty of them are performed a night. Eight are predetermined, six are chosen randomly and six are voted upon. If you want to see them all, you have to go back several times to catch all the performances. Most of the performances are comedies, but there are a few dramas sprinkled into the mix.
The plays are extremely varied, from mad cap comedy to poetry, audience participation to two minute monologues. A few of performances are a bit off, Sea:Shore plods along, Smelter wants to be part of a larger piece and felt out of place with the rest of the plays. But the hits far outnumbered the misses. 57 Varieties takes an intimate conversation between a husband and wife to almost Pythonesque degrees of absurdity. The Order was laugh out loud funny, and drew more than a few knowing glances from the couples present. Fact or Opinion literally draws the audience into the performance to join in a scorned teacher's petty revenge. Philosophy of the Infinite Heart was by far the best of the drama pieces, with two friends discovering truths while contemplating the universe.
With a cast of just over a dozen and almost three dozen plays, everyone wears multiple hats for Five Minute Mile. Of the plays I saw, Andraes Hunt and Whitney Zangarine both appeared in six each, with Bryan Maynard and Cindy Lou Parker close behind with five appearances. These four made the evening enjoyable, as each is very capable of carrying a performance almost single handed. In the case of Hunt, Parker and Zangarine this was actually the case. Other performances of note include Cody Dale Edgar in his thankless role as a put upon waiter in The Order, Renata Smith as a wife with an agenda in the ludicrous 57 Varieties, and Bryan Kaplun's monologue as a less than honest employee in Resignation. Due to the random selection of plays several performers barely had any roles, or their roles were restricted to background appearances.
The writing and direction of the performances were mostly solid, every story was coherent and typically engaging. Some of the plays, like the aforementioned Smelter and Walking After Midnight seemed sections of a larger story, leaving you wanting the piece to continue to some closure. Others like Maggie's Madness and Taps were over before you realized it. Many of the plays revolved on a twist ending, those were some of the strongest performances, such as the blissfully silly The Tortoise and the Stare or I'm First.
In short the Five Minute Mile is just that, short. Before the laughter dies down the next set is struck and the actors are ready to begin again. You can't review it on a single performance, even seeing it more than once doesn't guarantee you will see all of them. You might get several dramas in a row or slapstick and wordplay that would not seem out of place on vaudeville. You roll the dice, you take your chances. But if you are feeling lucky, there is a good chance you will enjoy yourself. And if you are really lucky, they will add you to the performance itself.
Five Minute Mile by Coneman Running at Queensbury Theatre's Black Box. Tickets are $15, park on the side street to avoid some rather hefty parking fees.