Laura Turnbull in the odious "Banging Ann Coulter."
George Schiavone
Laura Turnbull in the odious "Banging Ann Coulter."

This year's Undershorts series is altogether crisper than Signature Shorts' gassy anomalies. Aside from "Banging Ann Coulter," only one is a certifiable dud (Rolin Jones's directionless "Extreme"), and only one piece overstays its welcome (Joshua James's bracing "Fuck You"). Despite their alleged filth, some Undershorts manage moments of real insight, pathos, or both (Susan Cinoman's "Beds," Bekah Brunstetter's "Daddy Took My Debt Away," and Laura Eason's mysterious political meditation "It Was Fun While It Lasted" — probably the best piece of the program, starring the incomparable Chaz Mena alongside Erin Joy Schmidt in the meatiest roles of the night). Even the dumbest of the remainders, such as Joshua James's "The Pap" (the title is self-explanatory), elicit a belly laugh or three. But all credit must go to the actors — including the chameleon-like David Hemphill and Scott Genn, who leave the stage soaked in blood, sweat, and probably several other bodily fluids. City Theatre's actors know how to rock a short play. Doesn't anyone know how to pick one?

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