An Evening of One Acts, Beyond That, at Frankie J’s MethaDome Theatre. The one-act play is a young and hungry theater artist’s best friend, an opportunity for experimentation with a built-in system of checks and balances: brisk pacing can smooth over gaffes, and even missteps serve a learning purpose. A whole evening of one-acts is by definition a mixed bag, but at least one rotten apple won’t spoil the barrel. In a collection of perspectives and strategies, there’s bound to be something that catches the audience’s fancy.

Of the three one-acts here, David Mamet’s monologue A Sermon easily fares the best. Actor Adam L. Ziegler draws out the cool sleaziness of Mamet’s wry word games in this collection of guidelines for the modern world, and his delivery is perfect. Michael Emmett Piotrowski’s kinetic staging of Sam Shepard’s Action echoes the company’s frenetic pacing in its inaugural production, Jez Butterworth’s Mojo. But the actors are almost too forceful and belligerent. And though performer Devin Kirk ably channels the spirit of Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho in Dennis McIntyre’s The Boyfriend, this painfully short script leaves him little to chew on.

The Beyond That company doesn’t transform water into wine with this evening of dour one-acts, but once the troupe masters the art of script selection, miracles might begin to emerge. –Nick Green