Pirates and Ninjas,” a trio of one-act plays concerning the ever-relevant topics of the title, sounds like it could be an amusing goof and is indeed mildly entertaining on that level. A couple of the plays are conceptually clever, some of the actors are funny, and the cast has energy to spare. But the sets are almost nonexistent, the direction mostly sloppy and some of the humor disappointingly puerile. The concurrent art gallery exhibition is skimpy and unimpressive. The level of ambition here is like that of a college skit night.
The first and most forgettable piece is Maria DeLuca’s “Pirates and Ninjians,” a laborious tale of vengeance told by a pirate that at least has the virtue of being short. Eva Anderson’s “The Orb of the Seven Dragons,” a creative take on “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, is funny as written, but DeLuca’s haphazard direction simply has the large cast running all over the place to little effect, which dilutes the humor. The third and best play is “Pirates and Ninjas,” the droll story of a pirate and ninja who move in as next-door neighbors in an apartment complex. Writer Lissa Sherman has created an almost silent comedy — the pirate only says “yar,” and the ninja only says “hai” — and her staging of the piece is smooth.
Daniel Gallai brings a roguish charm to his perf as Pirate in the third play, getting a surprising amount of mileage from variations on “yar.” Aly Mawji, who has a trickier role as the almost-mute Ninja, displays physical grace and uses his eyes (the only part of his face not covered by a mask) effectively to project his character’s emotions. Robert Baker’s spot-on vocal perf as the Narrator in “Orb” provides most of that play’s laughs. Allain Rochel’s overhead projections in the final play are crudely funny, but they simply get cruder and less amusing as they continue. Josh Charney and Andrew Lessman’s live music, however, is jazzy and tasteful.