Tory Parker’s The Redwoods in dress rehearsal. Photo: Taylor Torsky

Quick Quills

Various writers & directors

A review by Keith Waits

Entire contents are copyright © 2024 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

Louisville-based writers need a place for 10-minute short plays and Highview Art Center provides a good outlet. Quick Quills is a great title for the format, and this program generally does pretty well, providing a few stellar offerings.

#1 by far is the closing piece, a game show spoof by Bryce Woodard called Games Are Fun! The script is tight, the casting is perfect, and director Bailey Preston directs the three skilled actors to deliver the requisite snap, crackle, and daffy pop. The game show questions the contestants’ knowledge gained from an undergraduate degree, a pointed satirical premise. Ryan Lash is so perfectly and hilariously unctuous as the emcee I wondered if Woodard had written the part for him.

Short programs are often divided into comedy and drama, and more of the former arrived in Joan Liles’ Just Between Us, which examines the impact on three roommates when they discover that their pet dog, Peyton, can talk. The idea works because Liles establishes a downcast tone for the women so that the strange phenomenon gains a modicum of gravitas. 

And Eat It Too!, by Erin Fitzgerald, is an offbeat comic examination of the unique stress placed on a couple sitting down to share a special cake. Jazmin Smith and Jake Rosenberger do a nice job and have good chemistry here.

Taylor Vetter’s Acts of Service is an uneasy mix between funny and strange, and the concept is intriguing if underdeveloped. Jazmin Smith’s Commonwealth v. Julian Edwards is a potent diagram of the pitfalls and tragic results of our juvenile justice system. It feels highly authentic if a little strident in its storytelling. Paul DePrey has exactly the right tone of authority as the judge in the case but he also plays subtle notes of thoughtful complexity that show him beginning to question his role in the tragedy.

Tory Parker’s Tne Redwoods is a surprisingly fresh take on the undead. This overworked character type here bears good results in Parker’s hands by exploring the vestiges of humanity that remain. Under Kathy Preher Reynolds’ direction, Mitch Curry, Laurel Henning, Crystian Wiltshire, and Bernie Stone give some of the best performances of the evening. 

Non-binary is a term that has come to dominate social discourse in the last several years, and Brian Walker’s Dead Cat questions how little we understand the term and the real struggle of an individual who cannot fit into society’s preconceived molds. If you will forgive a critic cliche, It is easily the most “socially relevant” short of the evening. Under Marc McHone’s direction, it is rendered in two beautifully judged performances by Jordan Aiken as the older sister who still can’t quite accept her non-binary sibling, Sam Toohey.

Short plays can be a minefield of facile, pretentious ideas and one-trick sketch comedy, but Quick Quills sidesteps that risk mostly with good writing, some of which is elevated by performance.

Featuring Jordan Aiken, Abby Braune, Mitch Curry, Darian Dean, Paul DePrey, Sydney DFeiti, Laurel Henning,  Devin Lee Johnson, Ryan Lash, Marty Anne Matthews, Stuart Reynolds, Jake Rosenberger, Jazmin Smith, Bernie Stone, Sam Toohey, & Crystian Wiltshire  

Quick Quills

March 14, 15, 16 @ 7:30 PM
March 17 @ 2:30 PM

Highview Arts Center
7406 Fegenbush Lane
Louisville, KY 40228

Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of Artists Talk with LVA on WXOX 97.1 FM /, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music, and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for