Don Bearden, Amber McDonald Good, Susannah Wells, Andrew Hodge, and Jeremy Zoma star in Red Barn Theatre’s ‘Twilight Zone’-themed Short Attention Span Theatre. RALPH DE PALMA/Contributed

The third mainstage production in Red Barn Theatre’s 40th anniversary season takes viewers to another dimension by setting its popular collection of short plays in the style of the classic sci-fi series, “The Twilight Zone.” 

“Short Attention Span Theatre” has evolved from a boisterous and scrappy summer offering into something more refined and better defined. But that’s not to say the piece has lost its fun.

The edges remain frayed in all the right spots, like a perfect pair of jeans, and the actors maintain a constant energy that lets the audience know anything can happen.

“Short Attention Span Theatre in the Twilight Zone,” much like its television inspiration, uses archetypal elements of science fiction and a dash of Kafkaesque imagination that combines comedy with a subtle commentary on the human condition. 

 Two of the strongest pieces balance humor with their more existential side. The first features Jeremy Zoma and Susannah Wells as mayflies on a date. Yes, mayflies on a date. The two, in costumes designed by Gary “Sushi” Marion, buzz and zip and banter in swamp puns. As the moment wears on though, the two realize their natural limitation of a 24-hour life. How should two souls spend their time on Earth? Zoma and Wells are masters at delivering the funny bits with a one-two punch. 

The second piece features Andrew Hodge as a man on a job interview that’s anything but typical, as it’s an evaluation to see if he’s the best fit to serve as his interviewer’s best friend. With Zoma, the two slowly up the emotional ante, verbally moving through their projected life together. It’s charming banter, but the power lies in the peek into contemporary male friendships, and ultimately how we manage our longest relationships. Amber McDonald and Don Bearden round out the cast as the true chameleons, navigating seamlessly among  roles, genres and moods.

“Short Attention Span Theatre” finds its greatest strength in the fact that it’s a true family affair — Red Barn’s own Mimi and Gary McDonald produce and direct the seven 10-minute plays. Their aforementioned daughter, Amber, takes the stage while their son Jack can take credit for the irreverent, adaptable and pitch-perfect stage and set design. 

The McDonald family and Red Barn Theatre are known for playing with content, twisting and tweaking to present fresh versions of the pieces that slide across their stage. “Short Attention Span Theatre,” with its blend of New York and local actors, its unique brand of family-produced staging, comic timing and surprising content from a variety of writers and time periods,  is no exception. “What we all liked best about ‘The Twilight Zone’ was the way it was the social consciousness of that time,” Mimi McDonald said. “There was a moral to the stories, even with their bizarre natures. And actually, when you think about theater, most shows are little ‘Twilight Zones,’ aren’t they?”

Don Bearden, Amber McDonald Good, Susannah Wells, Andrew Hodge, and Jeremy Zoma star in Red Barn Theatre’s ‘Twilight Zone’-themed Short Attention Span Theatre. RALPH DE PALMA/Contributed
Don Bearden, Amber McDonald Good, Susannah Wells, Andrew Hodge, and Jeremy Zoma star in Red Barn Theatre’s ‘Twilight Zone’-themed Short Attention Span Theatre. RALPH DE PALMA/Contributed

‘SHORT ATTENTION SPAN THEATER’
Through March 14
shows at 8 p.m.
Tickets may be purchased
at redbarntheatre.com
or by calling 305-296-9911

 

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