SAVE THE DUCKS AND OTHER STORIES OF COURAGE, DIGNITY, EMBARRASSMENT, AND TOTAL COWARDICE, at the Lunar Cabaret. In her brief but endearing one-woman one-act, Rose Buckner introduces the audience to five earnest oddballs in what feels like a showcase or a loose collage, though these poignantly comic female monologues are reminiscent of Lily Tomlin’s characters.

Buckner’s gentle misfits share their misadventures and insights into the ways the world works–or doesn’t work. The best of the stories mine cultural contradictions in seemingly aimless but actually strategic meanderings. A horny New Ager struggles to balance her chi while preparing to go out with a good-looking but decidedly unenlightened football jock. A small-town waitress puts her job, her boss, his boyfriend, and her life in perspective on a smoking break. A pathologically shy woman leads a self-esteem seminar because she once read that people teach what they need to learn.

Buckner’s rapid onstage costume changes and mobile face effectively suggest class differences and various personalities. It’s hard for her to hit the right balance between caricature and character sometimes, as it would be for most performers in this kind of show, but her intelligent writing fills in the gaps in the most stereotypical characterizations. Buckner clearly respects these women, who are as foolish as they are brave, and their whimsically presented failures and stubborn persistence offer sweet entertainment. –Carol Burbank