Pear Theater offers eight plays in 15 minute slices

Pear Slices features eight short plays. One of them is “Duelin’ for Keeps,” featuring, from left, Bill C. Jones, Kyle Smith and Nicole Martin. Photo by Michael Craig.

BY JOHN ANGELL GRANT
Daily Post Theater Critic

Mountain View’s Pear Theater opened eight world premiere plays over the weekend (May 6-7). Each play is 15 minutes long, and all eight are presented on a single bill titled “Pear Slices 2018.”

One highlight is Barry Salter’s “Eagles in Heaven.” Here a young woman (Ariel Aronica) and her grandfather (Bill C. Jones) trek together on a week-long camping trip. He fears his own death, looking back on the life and death of his wife. The young woman wants him to live. It is a bonding and love story, and a touching two-character vignette, with two good performances.

Another highlight is Barbara Anderson’s “An Afternoon Tango.” Here an upscale Peninsula couple (Nicole Martin, Kyle Smith) joins an older woman (Alyssa Lupo-Zulueta) at a hotel patio table to watch amateur tango dancers perform.

The upscale woman criticizes homeless people to the stranger, who also turns out to be down on her luck. The show is well directed by Robyn Ginsburg Braverman and Troy Johnson.
Another strong entry is Steve Koppman’s “Helping out Mrs. G.” Here a young man (Matt Brown) helps a neighbor (Alyssa Lupo-Zulueta) with her groceries. She chats to keep him at her place, and the two bond. This sweet show is well directed, and movingly performed.

Complications of AI

Ross Peter Nelson’s amusing “Housemaster 3000” is a spoof about a home artificial-intelligence voice servant. When a girlfriend of the moment (Ariel Aronica) gets up in the morning in her date’s apartment, and asks the voice servant (Matt Brown), “Make two coffees,” things get complicated. When the voice servant recites names of the boyfriend’s previous dates, things get more complicated.

It’s a funny show, with good performances.

Comedy triangle

Another amusing short play is Evan Kokkila-Schumacher’s “Duelin’ for Keeps.” Here two cowboys face off in a street duel.

One cowboy is a classic movie tough guy (Bill C. Jones), while the other is a post-modernist intellectual (Kyle Smith). The two fight over a woman, who then shows up as the newly appointed sheriff (Nicole Martin). It’s a guns and romance comedy triangle.

Bridgett Dutta Portman’s “A Mind Full of Venom” changes the tone. Here a Renaissance Inquisition priest (Kyle Smith) pays an unscheduled call on Italian astronomer Galileo (Bill C. Jones), who is on the hot seat for scientific theories that contradict the holy scriptures. Their debate heats up over what each of them said or didn’t say (echoes of fake news).

In Leah Halper’s “Walk the Plank,” two old friends (Nicole Martin, Alyssa Lupo-Zulueta) host a child’s birthday party. Suddenly the two fall out over news that one of them is making the other’s job obsolete. There is some awkwardness in the staging, as the birthday party children are imaginary characters on the stage, and that device doesn’t quite work.

In Paul Braverman’s “Stuck in the Middle,” three hot dogs (Matt Brown, Ariel Aronica, Kyle Smith) rotate on a commercial cooker in a restaurant. They discuss their futures, along with spirituality, and the meaning of life —all from the point of view of hot dogs.

“Pear Slices 2018” is a fun evening in the theater. Check it out. Eight plays for the price of one.

For tickets and information visit thepear.org or call (650) 254-1148.

John Angell Grant is the Daily Post’s theater critic. Email him at johnangellgrant@gmail.com.

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