Performing Arts

With mature actors and themes, Pigs Do Fly brings seven short plays to life

Jim Gibbons shares a tender moment with Carol Sussman in ‘Coming Through,’ a Pigs Do Fly short play.
Jim Gibbons shares a tender moment with Carol Sussman in ‘Coming Through,’ a Pigs Do Fly short play. Elena Maria Garcia

The Pigs Do Fly folks are aloft again, this time with Flying High!, a program of seven short plays featuring six actors of a certain age. (Not that we’d get into specifics on that score, though the theater’s mission involves producing work that highlights actors over 50 in plays that reflect and resonate with that age group.)

Presented at Fort Lauderdale’s Empire Stage, staged by directors Gail S. Garrisan and Elena Maria Garcia, Flying High! heavily favors comedies (conventional and absurdist), though there’s one other-worldly drama thrown in for variety. The subjects include confronting fears, facing change, looking for love and that old reliable, sex. Or not-so-reliable, unless Viagra is involved.

Miriam Kulick’s The Rock starts things off, as friends Allie (Elissa D. Solomon) and Sandra (Donna Warfield) are out for a hike. Intrepid Allie has made it across a stream by leaping from rock to rock, but Sandra is fearful and stuck — a metaphor for her life. As Allie tries to coax Sandra onward, her pal worries about falling, then moves on to detailing all that’s wrong in her world. We tire of her even sooner than Allie does.

Standing Tall by Marv Siegel is the evening’s Viagra play, no surprise. Though the playwright dances around the subject initially, as wife Shirley (Carol Sussman) and hubby Fred (Jim Gibbons) are dealing with some sort of medical issue in the middle of the night, it’s clear from the get-go that Fred has tried the little blue pill and that the drug has done its job all too well. And that, worries aside, an encore is in the cards.

Carol White’s Hail Kale features a bartender/waiter named Sam (Steven Chambers), a divorcee named Margaret (Warfield) and her divorced blind date Max (Todd Caster). Margaret is nervous about the setup, so she’s swilling expensive martinis, which don’t do much to calm her but work really well at getting her sloshed. Once Max shows up, the play takes a more interesting turn, as the characters say one thing then speak their true thoughts aloud. As in Margaret commenting on Max’s spare tire or Sam singing the praises of the expensive cuisine while actually wanting to murder the chef.

Director Garcia turns playwright for Exchange, No Returns, an odd piece about a customer (Solomon) wanting to change her life for another one. A clerk (Sussman) offers her a few options but basically tells her she’s out of luck, then relents and allows the customer to return one thing. The payoff is a sight gag.

Caster’s Dream a Little Dream of Me features longtime pals Kate (Warfield) and Eric (Chambers), each married to others, out at a bar. He confesses he’s had one of “those” dreams about her, thus creating a slippery slope. The two proceed to verbally slip and slide, she taking offense that he doesn’t remember her performance in the dream as sensational.

In Pamela Schueler’s Coming Through, Sussman and Gibbons again play wife and husband. A city official named Mike (Caster) arrives to inform farm wife Shirley (Sussman) that the city intends to buy her house and land so that a road can be built — whether she likes it or not. She hollers for her husband Albert (Gibbons), who doesn’t show, then takes Mike on a tour of her house and memories. Once he’s gone, Albert appears, and the play takes its mysterious turn.

Flying High closes with David Susman’s Stuck, in which wife Helen (Solomon) and husband George (Caster) find themselves in a pickle as they await the arrival of dinner guests. Seems they’ve ordered a contraption to spice up their sex life, and the drunk delivery guy setting it up has become entrapped in it — and passed out. They fully expect their friends to go into the bedroom (maybe they didn’t need the contraption after all), so the comedy is about their increasingly frantic efforts to avoid getting caught.

Like City Theatre’s Summer Shorts or the City Theatre-Island City Stage Shorts Gone Wild, Flying High! offers patrons a theater sampler that runs under two hours. The writing and acting don’t make it to the high bar set by the best work of those other programs, but theatergoers who fit the Pigs Do Fly demographic are likely to have at least a few of those resonant experiences for which the company is aiming.

Christine Dolen: 305-376-3733, @christinedolen

If you go

What: ‘Flying High!’ (‘The Rock’ by Miriam Kulick, ‘Standing Tall’ by Marv Siegel,’ ‘Hail Kale’ by Carol White, ‘Exchange, No Returns’ by Elena Maria Garcia, ‘Dream a LIttle Dream of Me’ by Todd Caster, ‘Coming Through’ by Pamela Schueler, ‘Stuck’ by David Susman).

Where: Pigs Do Fly production at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Dr., Fort Lauderdale.

When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday, through Oct. 25.

Cost: $30.

Information: 866-811-4111 or www.pigsdoflyproductions.com.

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