Artsmash Critic Tim Smith covers classical music, theater and visual arts in Baltimore and beyond
Theater review:

Single Carrot production features a trek through the streets, multiple plays, and an underwear-clad guide

Tim Smith
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

As part of its 10th-anniversary season, Single Carrot Theatre welcomes back alumni — only one original ensemble member remains after these 10 years — for a multi-location production billed as "A Short Reunion." It's not long on substance.

Various playwrights whose works have been staged by the company created brief pieces for this enterprise; Single Carrot veterans collaborated on one, too.

The nine new plays are not staged inside the theater. Instead, audiences gather there, divide into groups and follow a guide on a zigzag jaunt through Remington streets, stopping along the route for performances held indoors and out.

As a grand finale, the groups are herded together into a warehouse where actor Paul Diem, in Charles Mee's "The Therapist," delivers an exhortation about the arts and artists, or some such.

Then, clad only in briefs and a cape, a bullhorn-toting Diem leads everyone on a noisy parade down one block of Howard Street and up the other side. It all feels forced to me, but I imagine others will eat up the communal ethos.

Actors and directors, even the tour guides, do generally sturdy work. The quality of the plays is more variable.

Jen Silverman's "Tense White People Have Dinner," for example, feels undeveloped. Eric Coble's "One More Time" and Adam Szymkowicz's "36 Questions or Emily and Sanders" suggest drama class exercises.

There may be a germ of an idea in Joshua Conkel's "Itch So Bad," about two guys (Elliott Rauh, Dustin C.T. Morris) who can't keep their hands off of each other, but this would-be comedy spreads the humor awfully thin.

But some destinations of the neighborhood trek do deliver a decent dose of substance and style.

I was most impressed by "Bruce/Brenda/David," crafted by several Carrot alums. It examines the real-life case of David Reimer, who, after a botched circumcision, was raised as a girl before reclaiming his original gender.

Staged in and on a parked automobile (Reimer committed suicide inside a car at the age of 38), the work exerts considerable pull. And it's beautifully acted by Nathan Fulton and Meg Jabaily as the different versions of David, Aldo Pantoja as the controversial Johns Hopkins psychologist Dr. John Money.

Olivia Dufault's "The Ninth Planet" opens on a stoop and moves inside a rowhouse, where loopy Dad (Rauh) wears an astronaut suit, and teenage daughter Casey (Jessica Moose Garrett) struggles with her own assorted issues. The result is a vintage Single Carrot-like experience — quirky, wry and absorbing.

If you go

"A Short Reunion" runs through Sunday at Single Carrot Theatre, 2600 N. Howard St. Tickets are $10 to 29. Call 443-844-9253, or go to singlecarrot.com.

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