A ghostly presence was felt this weekend on MacDougal Street in the West Village as the Players Theatre Short Play Festival kicked off its first weekend of phantasmagoric short plays. In its 12th year, Be Bold! Productions presented six new 15-minute original short plays to the delight of sold-out crowds.
Audiences voted, and the winner of this week’s prize was “The Algorithm”, written by Megan Kemple and directed by Chelsi Kern.
“The Algorithm” highlights just how frightening the reality of social media can be and the real and perceived dangers that are possible by society’s acceptance of the algorithms that are slowly dissecting our online presences. Throughout the play, Bianca (Kathleen Denecke) scrolls through her phone and is assaulted by social media images and voices represented by Megan Kemple, Sarah Vishnev, and Grace Williams. It leaves audiences wondering: is it really worth it?
Joining “The Algorithm” were five other frightening plays.
“Harwood House” written by Andrea Woodbridge and directed by Sue-Ellen Mandell, takes the traditional haunted house and infuses it with a sprinkling of possession. Married couple Alastor (Seamus O’Sullivan) and Rei (Andrea Woodbridge) visit a house they have inherited from Rei’s recently deceased great aunt. Unfortunately, they soon discover that there are multiple spirits present just waiting to inhabit a new pair of live bodies.
“Blithe Séance”, written by Eugene Grygo and directed by Rachel Langton, treats viewers to a séance that turns out to be more heart than horror. It’s Halloween in 1999, and Theo (Nicholas Schommer) is trying to rid his recently-sold Boston home of aggressive ghost Rupert (Jeremy Lynch) by enlisting the help of psychic medium Jasper (Rick Benson). They hold an epic séance, and we learn that Rupert just needed to connect with Jasper on a personal level in order to travel to the other side.
“Copy and Paste”, written by Matthew J Kaplan and directed by Perryn Pomatto, introduces lonely Annabelle (Cynthia Shaw), who has long grieved the absence of her late husband. She convinces mailman Skip (David Michael Kirby) to come inside and assist her with her computer when he stops to deliver the mail. However, after a cup of coffee, it becomes apparent that Skip may be skipping the rest of his route.
“First Date”, written by TS Nelson and directed by Carla Cantrelle, finds Tess (Erica Logsdon) and Alec (Sean Gregory) meeting up for their first date: a secluded hike in the woods. While the audience first fears for what may happen to Tess, things are turned on their head when Alec becomes the one in danger.
“When the Spirit Hits You”, written by Bob MacKay and directed by Keith Armonaitis, presents viewers with couple Sam (Marci Fine) and Bobby (Rocco Spoon), who think they have lucked out in inheriting an expensive apartment in the city. It turns out, however, that the apartment is haunted by a kinky, bottom-spanking ghost. Red-cheeked, Sam and Bobby turn to their neighbor Morgan (Gina Frio), who suggests switching apartments. We soon learn that Morgan is more than happy to engage with the sly spirit.
The Players Theatre SPF 2023 Short Play and Musical Festival returns this Thursday through Sunday with a brand-new set of petrifying plays that are sure to spook audiences. Celebrate ominous October and catch the Halloween spirit with these never-before-seen shows!
Tickets can be purchased at www.ShortPlayNYC.com. The festival takes place at the Players Theatre: 115 MacDougal Street, NYC, 3rd Floor.
Week 2 Plays run Oct 12-14 at 7pm, Oct 15 at 3pm.