The beauty of one-act plays lies in their brevity. If successful, they make their point quickly, and if unsuccessful, at least they’re not very long to sit through. Playwright Malcolm Danare benefits from this format in his collection of four slightly related one-acts, “In Heat,” with concise stories that waste no time presenting their central dramas. Unfortunately, despite an able cast, most of the stories come off as unbelievable, and the result is a show that’s only mildly entertaining.
“Carbs,” the least compelling of the quartet, details the conflict between bitter actress Olivia (Rebecca Klingler) and her director husband Sydney (Robin Thomas) as she vents her frustrations over an audition she thinks went badly.
“Genes and Chromosomes” chronicles the prickly meeting of statuesque blonde Sophie (Shana Sosin) and defensive shorter guy Fred (Kyle T. Heffner) as she flirts and he resists.
“Working Out” concerns a conflict between best friends Gary (Danare) and Neil (John Kapelos) as they hang out at a Starbucks.
Finally, “Perfect Timing” follows the progress of a memorable blind date between the new age devotee Faith (Mary Mara) and the smitten Paul (Jon Lindstrom).
Thomas is likable and projects confidence as Sydney, but Klinger’s character is written to be so unpleasant for most of the piece that her sudden change of heart toward the end of the story seems unconvincing. Sosin makes the most of her comedic role in a charming and witty perf, but Heffner is shackled by a frankly improbable premise, and his anger seems over the top. Danare is fine as the unhappy Gary, but Kapelos steals the show as the crude Neil, his angry energy galvanizing the piece in a well-crafted perf. Lindstrom is amusing as the lovestruck but startled Paul, and Mara is captivating and credible as the unconventional Faith.
As a first-time playwright, Danare shows some promise, but at this point, he seems more effective with humorous moments than dramatic ones. “Carbs” suffers from an excess of vitriol and a too-easy denouement, and “Genes” plays as wish fulfillment more than reality. “Working Out,” however, is effective in its look at two unlikely buddies, and “Perfect Timing” veers into dark hilarity with the inclusion of a hardy and unlucky rat. James Eckhouse’s direction is efficient if not inspired.