June 17, 2015

Playwrights, appreciate your actors. Sometimes they’ll save you from yourself. That’s especially true at Series C of Ensemble Studio Theater’s Marathon of One-Act Plays, in which an exceptional team of performers shores up some of the weakest writing and makes the good plays even better. The shakiest piece comes first, “Devil Music” by Angela Hanks. Here, Daniel Morgan Shelley and Crystal Lucas-Perry carry a tale of unrequited love with more skill than the long-winded and frequently implausible script merits. The cast of “Good Afternoon” by Daniel Reitz has a far better story to work with, and the actors don’t waste a line. Haskell King is superb as Glen, a registered sex offender who is required by law to announce his presence to new neighbors. He knocks on the door of Lorrie, a lonely woman nicely played by Kersti Bryan. The resulting interaction between these two quirky people manages to be both witty and sincere. You may guess much of “The Science of Stars and Fathers and Daughters” before it happens — the plot follows a parent-child relationship over several years, in the vein of Harry Chapin’s song “Cat’s in the Cradle” — yet in spite of the obvious heart-tugging, Darcy Fowler’s play is wholly gratifying. Michael Cullen and Emma Galvin are wonderful in their roles, aided by Linsay Firman’s smart direction.