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Short, Not Short Enough 

Our appalled critic declines to review excruciating Iraq in 3/3 Time at Etcetera

You know a play's up fake creek without a paddle when one character whips out a handgun to keep the other character from exiting stage left. That device is deployed more than once in the four short but not short enough plays that comprise Iraq in 3/3 Time With a Coda.

That could be my lede in a regular review. The second graph could say something about how Etcetera, Live Theatre Workshop's late-night series, decided for unknown reasons to present local playwright Gavin Kayner's excitable and stubbornly humorless declarations about war (he's against it). He also directs.

But who I am kidding? There's no way I'm going to review what I'm seeing right now. Who wants to be the mean old man with nothing better to do than slam the hard work of a serious-minded playwright and four actors who are probably kind and decent people? Not me.

Iraq is billed as four short "ruminations on the effects of war and violence." Suffice it to say that lots of war-related words like IED and Humvee and Fallujah are being said as one play ends and another begins. It's a good thing I had coffee next door before the show.

This guy on stage now: he's doing his sarcastic face and saying so many words. It must be hard to remember so many words that are strung together with no connection to the way humans talk. Maybe he's a savant.

He's talking endlessly to a motionless man sitting with his back to us. That poor actor, still as a statue, must be miserable. Unlike him, at least we can shift uncomfortably in our seats. Maybe he's supposed to be dead. I wish I was.

Now we're in the third play and it's droning on and on. The talky guy is getting all loud again, waving his gun and righteously huffing and puffing. Would it kill him to pass that gun? C'mon, dude. Huff, puff, pass.

Ooh, the talky guy is backstage taking a well-deserved rest. A young woman has taken his place and she's talking about her dead dad. I like her eyes. She likes to think her dad jumped from the towers, his arms spread wide. Wait, so we're doing Sept. 11 now?

Her dad liked baseball and she thinks about him when she goes to games.

Why didn't God catch him? She asks the same question three times, so it must be a climax. Yes!

The show's over. I have just passed through what was truly the longest hour of my life. We're all clapping as hard as we can.

More by M. Scot Skinner

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