THEATER REVIEW | Bedlam Theatre’s Ten Minute Play Festival defies expectations, for better and or worse


In general, if you tell me that a piece of theater is going to defy my expectations, I’ll consider that a positive incentive. While sitting through the long first half of Bedlam Theatre’s 2012 Ten Minute Play Festival, though, it occurred to me that not all of our expectations about theater are bad ones. We bought the tickets, didn’t we? Maybe it’s just as well that some expectations are met.

By design, the Ten Minute Play Festival is a grab bag, a rapid-fire kaleidoscope of experimentation. It’s in the nature of experiments that some succeed and some fail, and this year’s round of mini-plays include more yawns than usual. Needless to say, though, at its best, this year’s festival (particularly in the “R-rated” second half) does deliver that uniquely Bedlam sense of gusto and liberation.

Whereas in recent years, the annual festival has been performed in multiple different sets at different times, this year you can see the whole festival in one sitting (with an intermission) at Mixed Blood Theatre. As a whole, I wouldn’t recommend this year’s festival to people who aren’t die-hard Bedlam fans, but there are a few individual plays that leave strong impressions. Getting Schooled, created by Tom Lloyd and Anton Jones with their ensemble, is a fiery cry of frustration at the rut many educators and students find themselves in. Man Show [what we want to see] by Samantha Johns and Paige Collette feels raw yet specific in its delineation of masculine vulnerability. Best of all is Cat and Me, a strange and sprawling show rendered in epic scope in its tight time constraints.

Perhaps the best thing about Bedlam Theatre—even in its current quasi-homeless state—is that it supports artists like these over years, nurturing their creativity and collaboration. While this chapter in the Bedlam story is one you can skim, I hope you’re as curious as I am regarding what lies on the next page.

Coverage of issues and events affecting Central Corridor communities is funded in part by a grant from the Central Corridor Collaborative.