Stepping Out

Pear serves up 'Slices'


John Beamer/Pear Theatre
Alison Whismore and Kyle Smith perform in last year’s “Pear Slices.” Smith returns for this year’s production, scheduled to run through Sunday at the Pear Theatre in Mountain View.

This is the final weekend to catch “Pear Slices,” a collection of original, short plays from the members of the Pear Playwrights Guild in Mountain View.

Now in its 15th year, “Pear Slices” – directed by Robyn Ginsburg Braverman and Troy Johnson – features eight 15-minute vignettes penned by local playwrights and brought to life by a single cast of local actors.

A description of each one-act play follows.

• “Afternoon Tango.” Barbara Anderson’s play is about an affluent couple who meet a gracious older woman while catching a quick lunch in a suburban city plaza. The conversation ranges from wine to fashion and fitness, from elder care to the chronic problem of homeless people in the big city. Although the two professionals have plenty of ideas on how to solve the various problems around them, it is the older woman who would have much to teach them – if they were able to listen.

• “Stuck in the Middle.” From the fertile mind of Paul Braverman, the play centers on three characters who heatedly debate the meaning of their existence, the possibility of an afterlife and whether or not their closest neighbors pose a threat to their safety and way of life. The twist? The three are convenience store hot dogs, eternally rotating in expectation of The Ascension. Braverman’s knack for addressing real-world conflicts in absurdly hilarious ways has made him a “Pear Slices” audience favorite.

• “Walk the Plank.” Leah Halper’s play is set at a child’s pirate-themed birthday party in the not-distant future. As unseen children run in and out of the house, the birthday boy’s parents find their relationship with their helpful friend tested by news of impending changes in the hospital where they all work. As tensions mount, long-suffering silences are broken, wounded pride rears its ugly head and a long friendship may be at an end, all in the name of progress for Western medicine.

• “Duelin’ for Keeps.” Evan Kokkila-Schumacher’s play takes place in an Old Western town, where there’s a showdown between two men fighting over a woman. The playwright throws a few twists – and a few laughs – into the trope, including a good guy with an annoyingly diverse vocabulary, a bad guy who can’t not quit with the double negatives and the woman in question who just may decide she’s had enough of both of them.

• “Helping Out Mrs. G.” Steve Koppman’s nostalgic piece is set in the 1970s. While waiting for his friend to come home, Mitch agrees to help his friend’s mother tackle a few chores the men of the house have been missing: carry in the groceries, change a light bulb, oil the squeaky door hinges. As they proceed from project to project, Mrs. G gives the teenager some wise advice; in turn, Mitch makes the amazing discovery that adults are just teenagers who grew up.

• “Housemaster 3000.” Ross Peter Nelson’s play takes audiences into a future in which everyday life is managed by our artificially intelligent household software. That’s great – until it inadvertently tells your newest girlfriend much more about you than you really wanted her to know.

• “A Mind Full of Venom.” Bridgette Dutta Portman offers an imagined account of a real meeting in February 1616. In Rome, legendary astronomer Galileo Galilei receives a visit from the priest Tommaso Caccini, who publicly denounced him as a heretic and set in motion a trial by the Inquisition. Caccini claims to have come to offer his apologies to the scientist, but his arrogance persists. Can scientific and theological beliefs coexist? Can any religion claim to have the answers, if that religion insists on avoiding, ignoring and denouncing any contradictory information?

• “Eagles in Heaven.” Barry Slater’s play rounds out the show. It centers on a widower and his teenaged granddaughter as they embark on what may be their last camping trip together. Both struggle with the loss of a loved one, and the painful changes that loss has caused to their daily life at home; but will their losses bring them closer together or separate them forever?

The “Pear Slices” cast, each playing multiple characters across plays, comprises Ariel Aronica, Matt Brown, Bill C. Jones, Alyssa Lupo-Zulueta, Nicole Martin and Kyle Smith. Kelly Weber Barraza is stage manager, Norm Beamer provides set construction and Meghan Souther designs lighting.

Performances are scheduled 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Pear Theatre, 1110 La Avenida St., Mountain View.

General admission tickets are $35, with discounts available to seniors and students.

For advance tickets and more information, call 254-1148 or visit thepear.org.

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