If brevity is the soul of wit, then Coneman Running’s Five Minute Mile is the wittiest production you will see this month. The show is an anthology of twenty plays each five minutes or less. There is comedy, tragedy, horror, monologues, and romance all rushing past the stage in a mad dash to entertain. The plays are chosen by a mixture of chance, vote and arbitrary selection, giving a reason to attend repeat performances. With over thirty short plays, you won’t see all of them in a single sitting, giving the show a unique performance for each audience.
With twenty shows to watch, there were hits and duds, performances both memorable and forgettable. Of the shows I was able to see several stood out. The Toasts, about dueling wedding toasts by increasingly belligerent guests was a lesson in brinksmanship. Welcome to Icare 3.1 was a horrific cross between Logan’s Run and the Stepford Wives.
The Interview was just a beautiful piece of surreal nonsense about a burrito trying to get a job. It Takes a Toll is a breakneck speed romance at a toll booth in three parts. In The Proposal we learn that awful people should never date.
Because of the way the plays were selected some actors got more time than others in the productions. Patrick Barton was only featured in a single play where Bryan Maynard was in five. Again, this encourages you to return to see the whole run, but if you can only see one can lead to a little disappointment if a show isn’t selected that you wanted to see.
Performances of note include: Whitney Zangerine, channeling Harvey Korman from the Star Wars Christmas Special, was terrifying an emotionless robot informing a woman of her fate in Welcome to ICare 3.1. Bryan Maynard’s random stranger was drawn wordlessly into a lover’s spat in Elevator, expressing the entire emotional arc with just his expressions. You want to hate Patrick Barton and Annie Wild in the Proposal as they are playing just annoying and self-obsessed couple that make a poor waiter’s life hell. Ty Fisher is delightful as an anthropomorphic bit of Mexican food trying desperately to get signed on at a business restaurant in the Interview.
The writing of the shows is generally good, the direction is top notch and acting is great, even if a few did have to keep from cracking up in some of the more ludicrous performances. You might not like all of the shows presented, but they are over so fast you don’t have to dwell on them. It’s a good show to introduce people who normally don’t go to the theatre to. You will find at least one performance worthy of talking about driving back home from the show.
The Five Minute Mile is at the Beacon Theatre on Navigation, it runs through November 18th. Arrive early as parking is an issue.