Short-play festival sparkles
MARK LOWRY
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
 
Last December, Ground Zero Theater Company producer Kimberlyn Crowe decided that because she didn't receive enough worthy scripts for her 10-minute play holiday showcase, Christmas at Ground Zero, an event that was a hit in 1999, she simply wouldn't mount a show.
 
But the festival is back for 2001, and thanks to smart casting and a number of clever plays - from many of the same playwrights who participated in 1999 - Christmas at Ground Zero proves once again to be the area's best theatrical holiday choice.

Some of the 10 shows push the limits of the 10-minute rule. As expected, they exhibit a variety of moods and styles.

The clear standout is Reg Platt's Minor Revelation, an insightful take on St. John the Divine, the man whose visions were the source of the Book of Revelation. Chapman Locke is the prophet, writing down these visions as the angel (Denise Jackson) pantomimes them. He's receiving a particularly strong prophecy about a red-suited monster carrying a sack on his back: The Anti-Claus. When the aging virgin Mary (Carolyn Wickwire) comes in, she suggests an annual birthday celebration for her late son and, in offering bread to John, leads him to the line "Man shall not live by bread alone."

In James Venhaus' well-written The First Christmas, a recently divorced husband (Anthony Ramirez) and wife (Jackson) tell their sides of the story while decorating their own half of a tree the way they've always wanted to. Erik B. Knapp's Wonderful Life offers the best dramatic scene - and performances - in a conversation between a police negotiator (Jeff Fenter) and a man watching a screening of the Jimmy Stewart movie with a bomb strapped to him.

Susan McMath Platt's Family Presents, Guillermo De Leon's The Best Christmas Ever and Jim Tyler Anderson's Iggy & Louis are all welcome laugh riots. Meanwhile, Vicki Caroline Cheatwood's after lunch, written to address the current war in Afghanistan, is too loosely connected to Christmas and felt hastily put together, more like a scene than a play.

Mark Lowry, (817) 390-7747 markl@star-telegram.com

Christmas at Ground Zero

Through Dec. 22; 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E Lawther Dr, Dallas

Tickets: $10-$12

Call: (214) 943-5120