New York | 1h 20m | Already closed

Summer Shorts 2016: Series A

From 12 critic and 14 member reviews
Members say: Entertaining, Quirky, Disappointing, Edgy, Clever

About the show

This annual festival of new American short plays from top playwrights (like Tony nominee Neil Labute) returns to 59E59 for its 10th consecutive year. More…

The festival's two separate series consist of three plays each, and run in rotating repertory.

'The Helpers' by Cusi Cram
Directed by Jessi D. Hill
Jane and Nate have a complicated and thorny past. Jane used to help Nate but, now that the tables are turned, can Jane take the leap and let Nate help her? A bittersweet comedy about risk, kindness, and how difficult it can be to let people in.

'After the Wedding' by Neil LaBute
Directed by Maria Milleaf
A man and a woman meet to discuss her infidelities. However, the more the woman confesses, the more the man professes his love for her. 'After the Wedding' is a comedic and bittersweet look at love, lust, and forgiveness.

'This is How it Ends' by A. Rey Pamatmat
Directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar
How would you spend your last day on Earth? Jake is about to find out, because his all-too-perfect roommate Annie has just broken some seriously disturbing news. She's the Antichrist, her coworkers are the Four Horseman, and the end is most definitely nigh. A hilarious and touching new play about life, love, and making the most of the time we're given.


"'The Helpers' is a bittersweet comedy about two captivating characters that shows how difficult it can be to embrace others. It is superbly written and wonderfully performed…In 'After the Wedding' the dialogue is completely compelling and seamlessly delivered...'This is How it Ends' is a well-staged, creative show that uses clever characterizations to develop its theme. The creative team has done a great job of bringing this fascinating variety of plays to the 59E59 stage." Full Review

Urban Excavations

"Two two-handers begin the evening, with a spectacular multi-scene, myth-meets-human 'end of time' extravaganza to round out the marvelous programs...Cusi Cram‘s gives an actor’s exercise delightful shape in 'The Helpers'...'After the Wedding' is a great a nuanced surprise...The playwrights, directors, designers, and performers address past harms, understanding, and forgiveness on professional, deeply personal, and mythic scales. All in three bite-size powerful one-act packages." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“The most fully realized, is a small bijou of a work, Cusi Cram's 'The Helpers'...Thanks to smart and often funny dialog and bang-up performances by the players, the play is a touching charmer in every way...A. Rey Pamatmat's ‘This Is How It Ends,’ is a fanciful consideration of the very last day of life...The play is too over-the-top to find its footing...One will make you smile wistfully; one is likely to disturb; and one will possibly leave you scratching your head.” Full Review


“One of the advantages of one-act play festivals is that even if you don’t like all of the offerings, you are certain to like at least one. Unfortunately, the three that make up 'Summer Shorts: Series A' are all a disappointment. This is particularly surprising considering one of the plays is by the usually reliable Neil LaBute. All of the new works in this evening seem like either pieces of longer plays yet to come or undeveloped ideas that have not been fleshed out.” Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

“‘The Helpers’: It’s a brief character sketch that doesn’t go very deep. The acting is adequate as is the direction by Jessi D. Hill…‘The Wedding’:Since this is LaBute, there is some sexual content. The actors are convincing and Maira Mileaf’s direction is smooth…‘How it Ends’: The plot is too disjointed to make much sense although director Ed Sylvanus Iskander bravely tries.” Full Review

Time Out New York

“Cram’s 20-minute piece is the least substantial: an anodyne park-bench reunion scene...Neil LaBute’s equally brief but more substantial ‘After the Wedding’...Tautly written, well acted and directed with cool assurance by Maria Mileaf, it delivers a quick and dirty jab...A. Rey Pamatmat’s ‘This Is How It Ends’...Is a hot-messy mix of amorphous theology, outré humor and redemptive gay sex. It’s at once too big and too small to satisfy, but the flavors are certainly bold.” Full Review


"In ‘The Helpers’ despite naturalistic direction, the play attempts to move too far, too fast…In LaBute's 'After the Wedding' the dialogue here is typically fast and clever, with direction and acting to match…'This is How It Ends’ stands in noted contrast...There's something intriguing about how out-there this play is...The cohesion between all three pieces feels rocky, and Series A totals up as an uneven collection, leaving you more weary of the one-act rather than energized by it. " Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“The plays in Series A are Cusi Cram’s ‘The Helpers,’ Neil LaBute’s ‘After the Wedding,’ and A. Rey Pamatmat’s ‘This Is How it Ends.’ All are performed on Rebecca Lord-Surratt’s elegantly simple unit set using translucent upstage screens that can form varying backgrounds. As the audience waits for the show to begin, a time-lapse film shows the construction of the set. Apart from LaBute's engrossing but flawed play, the video is the most fulfilling part of the production.” Full Review

Woman Around Town

“‘The Helpers:’ dialogue feels natural as delivered by two low-key, credible actors who deserve better. Jessi D. Hill’s direction is comfortably realistic…‘After the Wedding:’ This is the most successful of the three slight plays...Mileaf creates overlapping rhythms essential to flow while showing sufficient glimpses of feeling to keep narrative from becoming a novel exercise…‘This Is How It Ends:’ Were it not for some moderately engaging turns...the show would be a loud sleeper.” Full Review

The New York Times

“‘After the Wedding’ is the type of one-act play that suggests a larger picture outside of its diminutive frame. The other works in the program are more self-contained...'This Is How It Ends' feels like an extended high-concept joke that emerged from a merry late-night gab session...'The Helpers' is an amuse-bouche...One-act plays are the tapas of the theater world. They can be small and beautiful-but the ones here mostly leave you wanting more." Full Review

Front Row Center

"LaBute’s ‘After The Wedding’ is a seductive and disturbing bit of sleight of hand…Labute’s pen is still lethal and his aim true. The other two plays do not fare nearly as well…Burke and Dubliner do everything they can to keep ‘The Helpers’ afloat, but it is not enough to keep our interest...In ‘This Is How It Ends’ Mr. Pamatmat’s writing rises to the level of an original high school play, and these actors carry out their duties as well as they can. Mr. Iskander’s direction is no help." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"The most amusing piece is also the thinnest: 'The Helpers'...Provides further evidence of Cram's wry way with a line and difficulty with plotting…'After the Wedding' shows the playwright Neil LaBute spinning his wheels...'This Is How It Ends' may have looked good on paper, but it suffers from poor construction and a marked deficit of wit…If these plays were the best of what was available, I shudder to think what else was on tap." Full Review

Ambitious, Entertaining, Edgy, Hilarious, Raunchy

See it if Like cuss words, controversial topics, 1-acts, minimal staging, humor, good dialogue, homosexuality. I enjoyed Series A, more than B overall

Don't see it if Hate all the above and are too religious where anything anti-Christ offends you...

Ambitious, Delightful, Entertaining, Edgy, Great acting

See it if You love short plays about people and their flaws. Great acting. Wonderful Staging.

Don't see it if You want character development and a long story. They are short for a reason. If you don't like slice of life.

Quirky, Refreshing, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if Like short plays by known and upcoming playwrights. Grounded was really good and the O'Hara pkay broke the fourth wall like usual.

Don't see it if Want standard dramas. These are a bit quirky.

Clever, Entertaining, Original, Quirky, Refreshing

See it if You enjoy variety. I loved the characters in Helpers and the unfolding truth in After the Wedding. I thought How It Ends was awful.

Don't see it if You aren't willing to sit through one bad play in order to see two good ones.

Quirky, Original, Hit and miss

See it if If you want an evening that crosses genres. You are willing to take a chance on 3 plays when you may only like 1.

Don't see it if You aren't into plays about death. Irreverent religious plays are offensive to you, or you don't like short plays

Thought-provoking, Quirky

See it if you are interested in new work by three playwrights or are a fan of the three playwrights featured here.

Don't see it if you are interested in seeing these playwrights at their best-much of the work seems underdeveloped and hurried...each has done better work.

Good acting, Disappointing, Edgy, Uneven, Forgetable

See it if you have a prepaid subscription or you have a special interest in one or more of the playwrights.

Don't see it if you are looking for something special and/or memorable.

Tepid, Uneven, Indulgent, Sketchy, Disappointing

See it if are a LaBute fan or if you are a fan of short plays that don't go very deep

Don't see it if like theater with more meat on its bones


See it if you don't mind sitting through 2 uncompelling two-handers to get to the last piece, which is well-acted, fascinating and thoughtful.

Don't see it if you're expecting the 3 plays to have any thematic links, or if you're expecting the 3 plays to have any real dramatic heft.

Disappointing, Excruciating, Indulgent, Insipid, Raunchy

See it if You enjoy plays laced with lots of profanity. You especially enjoy watching mediocre plays being performed by talented actors.

Don't see it if Profanity used excessively is not your thing. You are not in the mood to be indulgent about less than proficient contemporary playwriting.

Great writing (labute), Great acting (after the wedding), Insipid (this is how it ends), Disappointing (the helpers)

See it if you want to enjoy a sharply written and naturally, confidently, effectively acted one-act play by Neil Labute (After the Wedding).

Don't see it if you aren't prepared to sit through a throw-away one-act by Cusi Cram (The Helpers) and an execrable, amateur play by A Rey Pamatmat.

Banal, Disappointing, Dull, One out of three is worthwhile, Inconsistent acting

See it if you are a fan of Neil La Bute. His play is outstanding, blessed with good directing and acting. The last play is sophomoric. The first, meh.

Don't see it if you will be satisfied by only one of the three plays.

During previews
Entertaining, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if you enjoy short plays with interesting dialogue and unique approaches to life. You are intrigued by what can be communicated in a short tim

Don't see it if you only like big shows with lots of gimmicks and fancy scenery. These are basic and pithy, virtually no scenery and little action.

During previews
Entertaining, Clever, Quirky

See it if You enjoy one act plays.The three plays,one by Neil LaBute,are very diverse in themes. The last play was somewhat wacky and disjointed.

Don't see it if You prefer more traditional fare.The first 2 plays each had 2 characters and clever storylines.The last play, with 6 characters,was nutty!

Cast & Creatives (17)