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Ballot Box Blizzard

“Full contact” is probably not quite the way to describe “Ballot Box Blizzard” at the Bloomington Playwrights Project, but it comes close to having the right vibe.

Thirty plays, thirty three-minute plays are on the program and the audience gets to vote for its favorites. The evening’s offerings are presented in groups of ten with two intermissions. The scenes come quickly with barely enough time for the audience to make notes on their ballots. “Ballot Box Blizzard” is the caucuses, the primaries and the election all in less than two hours.

As a reviewer, I’m always a little conscious about how a play and its performance are going, but at “Ballot Box Blizzard” I was only one of a whole audience of judges. The quality was high the diversity of choices was wide. There were plenty of boy meets girl situations, from the pursuit to the first kiss and even well beyond the morning after. The theatre itself came in for some fun as a patron discovered that “standing room only,” was only a standing room. An auditionee turned out to be only as much in the dark about her role as the director and the author. And an actor righteously, evaluated, found unworthy and fired all of us in the audience. Business also took it on the chin in “Ballot Box Blizzard” a couple of times. National security was eerily defended. Sprinkled among the new pieces for perspective were the winning pieces from last years “…Blizzard.” Realism was the dominant approach though there was one abstract masked piece. Over all, I’d say that irony and satire were the dominant modes, but there were a few straight chillers.

The thirty pieces of “Ballot Box Blizzard” come from eleven playwrights supported by nineteen separate sponsors. Each group of plays had a director and four to five actors. Steve Decker, Terence Hartnett and Jeremy Wilson were the directors.The short plays used few props with only the briefest black-outs between them. It’s a measure of the preparation that the Playwrights Project has put into the presentation of so many individual pieces that “Ballot Box Blizzard,” with the exception of one out-of-place chair, ran without a hitch.

“Ballot Box Blizzard” is a delightful opportunity to enjoy a whole sampler of interesting plays with the additional involving fun of actually getting to vote for a favorite piece.

The Bloomington Playwrights Project’s “Ballot Box Blizzard” plays this Friday and Saturday at eight.

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