KC review

Potluck Productions’ 12th-annual Kansas City Women’s Playwriting Festival clocks in at almost 160 minutes. With 11 plays to get through, a long evening is no surprise — but couldn’t we lose one or two? That one-joke sketch about how lovers can break up but Best Friends 4-Ever can’t stretches out like purgatory multiplied by western Kansas. Then there’s the groaner about the PC woman who hires a birthday clown for her son’s big 1-0 but then won’t let the clown perform, lest somebody might be offended.

With those two trimmed, we’d have a festival worth toasting. Wit and insight lace many of the other offerings: Glendora Davis’ Jill in the Box crams a lifetime’s worth of aches and laughs into minutes. Lee Miller’s The Recipe both lances and celebrates family traditions with tender humor. Marj O’Neill-Butler’s What If? — double-helix monologues from a sixtysomething woman, remembering her abortion, and a thirtyish man, adopted as a child and now searching for his birth mother — wrenches, thanks to a tough-minded script and strong performances from Vicky DeLaughder and Tom Stoppelman. The reason I don’t too deeply resent these (almost) three hours, though, is Crystal Jackson’s Please Remove This Stuffed Animal From My Head, a toothy comic allegory of just how hard it is for a man to get an appointment to have a stuffed tiger cut off his body. It’s cutting, funny and, as its real-world parallels become more obvious, politically ferocious. It was another play for grown-ups.