Café Theatre Features 10-Minute Plays in Casual Atmosphere

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Leslie Williams Reagoso presents an odd gift to Gloria Lamoureux in COFFEE TALK, one of eight short comedies in SUMMER SHORTS - OFF THE HOOK. Credits: Howard Fischer
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SUMMIT, NJ – A fun, relaxing way to spend an evening is with Summer Shorts, a selection of several 10-minute plays at The Brownstone Theatre, upstairs at Mondo, 426 Springfield Ave. in Summit.

Artistic Director David Hoffman has assembled a terrific cast of actors, many drama graduates from Montclair State University.  “The Thing with the Cosmos” by Ben Clawson and directed by Mike Driscoll, features Scott Cagney and Joey Drechsel as two pals. The more assertive of the two is argumentative, claiming that his friend had just one date with a new girl and shouldn’t plan on anything more. He complains about the coffee, predicts there will be a car accident right outside and blames everything that happens on the ‘cosmos.’  The two play against each other well.

All the plays have unexpected twists and turns, such as “The Popcorn Sonata” by Jenny Lyn Bader. It seems that the mother (Gloria Lamoureux) has a daughter who appears to be invisible. The baby sitter (Jenny Robbins) arrives and manages to calm the girl, even producing musical interludes on the violin. It’s all a little bizarre. You’re not sure if the child is real or not and whether these two women are both caught up in some sort of fantasy.  But it’s extremely clever and offbeat, ably directed by Chet Herman.

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“A Silent Piece” is a priceless pantomime with Cagney as a 1920’s policeman chasing two possible thieves, Brian Parks and Drechsel. Their expressions and antics, set to quirky music, are hilarious.

All the plays have strange, imaginative features, from a woman who grew coffee beans in South America (Coffee Talk by Brian Richard Morri) to a therapist (with a Spanish husband) who seems intent on attracting her client in a romantic embrace. Tom Block’s play is directed by Scott Cagney and features Shannon Sullivan as the therapist.

Then we have “Double Whammy,” by Liz Amberly where Sullivan and Jenny Robbins are both waiting for a blind date. But will this guy ever show up or will these two continue to spar?  A similar conflict arises with “Scrimmage” by Phoebe Farber. Leslie Williams Reagoso and Parks clash almost as much as the players on the field, directed by Liz Zazzi.

The plays are a delightful mix of unexpected scenarios, with excellent actors.  The space at Mondo is on the third floor, with brick walls and tables and chairs where you can order coffee, tea or soft drinks. It’s definitely an off- beat way to spend an evening, fun and different.

The cast will perform in Montclair next weekend and will be turning to Summit for the weekend of July 24, 25 and 26. For tickets, visit cafetheatre.org.

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