Katey Hoffman and Cheyenne Mabberley are the After Party Girls.
Katey Hoffman and Cheyenne Mabberley are the After Party Girls.

Funny, insightful, sad, trippy, and fearless … just what you should expect from an evening of one-acts as the seventh edition of SHIFT 1-Act Festival opens at The Cultch.

Funny. As struggling actor stories go Jennica Grienke’s This Time I Get What I Want doesn’t necessarily break new ground here as she drowns her sorrows about student debt, life on the boards and the lack of someone special in her life, in gateau noir and alcohol. But damn she is funny doing it. Ostensibly a monologue, Grienke raises the bar of the genre by including Carol, her stage manager. Does that make it a two-hander?

See if you can follow along with this Grienke’s story broken down into hashtags: #HairyPits #MasturbateMyMind #ItsAPlayDontTalk #GettingToKnowMe #GlutenFree #UnePetiteSnack #HaagenDazsAt2am #LittleJams #DepressedLightingCue #SpinTheBottle #SceneFromTitanic #AndScene #MeepMeep #LockUpYourSons #OprahMoment #DoYouBelieve #AllTheLoveINeed #OhFuckIt

Insightful. Take note of Jason Sherman’s title for his one-act, The Merchant of Showboat, as it will give you clues to what you are about to see as a woman of colour and a white Jewish male square off on the merits of presenting plays that most today would consider racist. A piece of Canadian theatre history, Sherman uses the 1993 Showboat revival controversy that divided the black and Jewish communities in Toronto, as his backdrop. The last two words of dialogue speak volumes on so many levels.

Sad. In our recent interview with playwright Scott Button, we asked him what he knew about surrogacy as a young twenty-something male.  It turns out he doesn’t need to know that much, as surrogacy is only a placeholder.  With Desire(e), Button digs much deeper into the human psyche, exploring what happens if what makes us unique is suddenly taken away. Heavy stuff for such a young writer at the start of his career, but it is ultimately thought-provoking. Meaghan Chenosky’s terrific performance ensures it never enters the melodramatic.

Trippy. More performance art than traditional one-act, PKD Workshow is a mindfuck from Daniel O’Shea. Never quite knowing what is real, what is drug-induced memory or what is inspired by Philip K Dick’s own life (the PKD in the title), the piece is a visual and auditory onslaught that will have you questioning everything. Dick couldn’t have said it better himself: “In my writing, I even question the universe; I wonder out loud if it is real, and I wonder out loud if all of us are real.”

Fearless. Katey Hoffman and Cheyenne Mabberley are comedic goddesses who appear to be afraid of nothing. The After Party Party (Waiting for Gordo) is laugh-out-loud funny, and while its characters often dip their toes into the absurd, they are surprisingly relatable. If this were a late-night sketch comedy show on the Comedy Network, I would subscribe just to be able to watch these two. Forget Saunders and French, meet Hoffman and Mabberley.

The SHIFT 1-Act Festival continues at The Cultch Culture Lab through June 21. Visit http://www.shifttheatre.ca for tickets and information.