This year’s production of “Quickies” from the Brandeis Ensemble Theatre offered bite-sized entertainment that showcased the original talents of the undergraduate performance community. 

Taking place in the Shapiro Campus Center Theater on Sunday, the entire production featured nine pieces, each about 10 to 15 minutes in length. The Quickies festival is an annual tradition — already in its 11th year, the show has cemented itself as a Brandeis theater staple. 

“All of our actors, directors, designers and other production staff members all put in so much hard work to make the show a success. I am so proud of how the event turned out,” said Emily Galloway ’18, one of the show’s three producers in an interview with the Justice.

The show’s major strength was its variety. The production as a whole hardly lagged or dragged on,  with doses of comedy and drama interspersed throughout the night, but there were many more opportunities to laugh than cry. 

The night’s most daring piece, “The Bagel Angle: A Half-Baked Playgel Based on Engels” kicked off the show. Abbie Goldberg ’16 and Aaron Goodwin’ 17 directed, wrote and scored the entire sketch. It started as a seemingly benign musical about a bagel store, with bagels puns punctuating every other line. It soon became obvious, however, that the piece was an incisive parody of the Brandeis administration’s sometimes-tense relationship with student activists. In the sketch, bagel shop employees direct their cries of “like dough — we will rise!” at tyrannical Bagel shop boss “Brandrew.” 

This year’s batch of “Quickies” played heavily with themes of gender and sexuality. “Once Upon A Matriarchy,” by one of the producers, Morgan Winters ’17, stood out. It was a deliberately heavy-handed feminist retelling of classic fairytale “Cinderella,” with Jason Kasman ’16 as Cinderella and featuring a princess instead of a Prince Charming. “Incendiary” by Ben T. Montrym ’19 was the most serious of the plays, dealing complexly with domestic roles in the context of a turbulent marriage. 

Plenty of meta-moments made for some of the most creative sketches. “This Literally Happened,” by Ana-Sofia Meneses ’16 and Bethany Greenbaum ’16, was told through a first-person narrator who often broke the fourth wall and referenced the play itself. “Cogitas Ergo Sum,” by Jacob Regenstein ’17, was self-referential in particularly mind-bending ways. It featured a cast of unnamed characters grappling with the concept of free will — whether they have it or are merely pawns of their author. “My character likely wishes they had a name, though,” wrote Sarah Kenney ’18 in an email to the Justice.

Kenney gave an especially impressive performance as “Character 3,” in part because her role was so challenging. “[Regenstein] wrote massive, existential paragraphs that could be at least half a page long altogether single-spaced. I spent a lot of nights repeating them to myself in my room over and over for a few hours on end,” she wrote in an email to the Justice. 

Kasman’s exceptional comedic instincts returned at the very end of the night for his piece “Birds.” In it, we meet a boy who’s lovestruck for a girl more interested in bird-watching. The sketch was a unique combination of physical comedy and tender moments that served as a fitting end for the program.

Casting for “Quickies” was done over a period of two days on Jan. 16 and 17. Most groups only had two or three rehearsals, and unlike the 24 hour Musical, another annual theater event, the actors had to go “off-book,” meaning they could not take their scripts with them on-stage. 

This year’s production was moved from the end of the fall semester to the beginning of the spring semester. “We thought that moving it to the spring would allow more people to get involved, because there are midyears who can participate and people aren’t stressed about finals,” Galloway said.