The Third Annual “Briefs” Brings Us Eight Short Plays With LGBT Themes

The entire cast assembles for a group shot of the Third Annual "Briefs: A Festival Of Short LGBT Plays."

The entire cast assembles for a group shot of the Third Annual “Briefs: A Festival Of Short LGBT Plays.”

For the third year in a row, that Uppity Theatre Company and Vital Voice brings us a great spectrum of short plays all based on the LGBT community with playwrights, directors and actors from both inside the community and from the wide range of talented folks working in theatre throughout St. Louis. “Briefs: A Festival Of Short LGBT Plays” offers eight short pieces filled with humor, pathos and problems and feelings common to everyone- they just happen to be about lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgenders. It only ran for one week-end but I was lucky enough to catch it between all of the other theater going on.

Ben Watts and Pete Winfrey communicate via Victorian "messaging" in "Buggery" at "Briefs."

Ben Watts and Pete Winfrey communicate via Victorian “messaging” in “Buggery” at “Briefs.”

As with any program involving that many short plays or one-acts, there are some ebbs and flows in the plays but most are pretty impressive and all are acted well. Pete Winfrey and Ben Watts get the show started with a Victorian send-up of today’s texting. The gentlemen- dressed in skivvies and elaborate top hats, sporting bushy mustaches- stand at either end of the stage with a clothesline attached to pulleys. They pull notes from various areas of their clothing and pin them to the line and send them on their way. Written by Brigham Mosley and directed by Ryan Foizey, “Buggery” is a great way to open the series. An unexpected twist in a relationship highlights “Lucky,” written and directed by Theresa Masters. Paige Russell is a nurse assisting the always delightful Rachel Hanks- a victim of a mugging. When a friend of hers, played by Alaina Appleby enters to pick her up, we get some very telling clues about their relationship.

Rachel Hanks and Alainaappleby reunite in "Lucky" at the "Briefs" Festival.

Rachel Hanks and Alaina Appleby reunite in “Lucky” at the “Briefs” Festival.

“Sharp Corner” by Donna Hoke and directed by Lee Anne Mathews, brings Alyssa Ward and Michael Amoroso together in a little experiment between friends that may or may not cause complications. Closing out the first act is Meghan Maguire looking for a good woman to date and Sara Hamilton as an old friend and ex-lover who is trying to make the right connection for her. “Ready,” written and directed by Festival sponsor and director of That Uppity Theatre Company, Joan Lipkin is a well written and tight little story that leaves a lot of hope open for our heroine.

A wonderful musical pastiche, “Not My Father’s Son,” opens the second act and features Zachary Alan Lee and his alter ego, Desire’ Declyne- a very touching and painful story beautifully told through song. “Messages Deleted” by Rich Espey and directed by Christopher Limber, offers another nice twist as John Wolbers and Jeffrey M. Wright are planning what to move out of the apartment as a visit from one of their fathers, played by Chuck Brinkley changes everything about their relationship. The thing is, their relationship has already changed forever but it’s touching to see how the father’s unexpected but necessary visit changes his outlook as well.

Michael Amoroso and Alyssa Ward contemplate what they've just done in "Sharp Corner" at the "Briefs" Festival.

Michael Amoroso and Alyssa Ward contemplate what they’ve just done in “Sharp Corner” at the “Briefs” Festival.

Written by Tabia Lau and directed by Bonnie Taylor, “In The Water” features another somewhat strained relationship as Kirsten Wylder and Carrie Hegdahl must come to a common ground on how to handle a family situation. Closing out the Festival is “Strange Bedfellows” written by Donald Miller and directed by Michael B. Perkins. Eric Dean White and Rich Scharf are hilarious as their three month relationship has met its first snag- can a Republican stay cozy with his partner, a Democrat? More friendly than hostile, they try to work things out by airing their different philosophies and reaching detente.

With the talents of Uppity’s Artistic Director, Joan Lipkin and Darin Slyman of Vital Voice, this was a delightful two hours of entertainment. Michael B. Perkins’ projections help the transition from each play and the actors, directors and playwrights must all be commended for their hard work and dedication to this project. “Briefs” is over for this year, but a fourth annual is promised and you should really plan on attending for a good cause and a good laugh or two along with some very poignant moments as well. It’s just good fun and the audience showed their enthusiastic appreciation when I saw it.


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