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'Moonlighting at the Grange'

Ashland Contemporary Theatre will stage a selection of scenes or short plays by Rogue Valley playwrights, most them taking an up-close look at functioning (or dysfunctioning), modern relationships.

In "Moonlighting at the Grange," Peter Quince directs David Gabriel, Bob Brazeau, Eve Smyth, Joe Caron, Jeannine Grizzard and others in seven works.

The readings are set for 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27-28, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Bellview Grange, 1044 Tolman Creek Road, Ashland.

Ashland playwright Dori Appel will showcase "Hansel and Gretel on Level 5," a sketch featuring a young couple trying to find their rental car in a large parking garage — and as you know, all rental cars look alike. Could this end their relationship or bring it closer together?

"It's one act from Appel's play 'Lost and Found,' " says Jeannine Grizzard, artistic director of ACT. The play won an Angus Bowmer Award in Drama, a category included in the Oregon Book Awards.

"Technically, it's a comedy but not ha-ha funny," Grizzard says.

In Diane Nichols' "The Game of Love," an old married couple face the eternal question: "How do I spice up my marriage and keep him/her interested?" A game is triggered when the wife spies a red sports car (always a sign of male midlife crisis) sequestered in the garage. Fearing an affair, she forces her husband into some bizarre role-playing as a way to save the marriage. It's all a misunderstanding — the stuff of good comedy — because the husband is merely hiding the car as a favor to his boss, who plans to give it to his own wife as a present.

"It's very funny and very sweet," says Grizzard.

Peter Quince penned "God's Therapist," a comedy that finds a minister desperately seeking help from a psychologist. His unusual problem: He's Christian with a vision from God to become Jewish — with logic that is hard to refute. "God's Therapist" is being developed into a full-length play.

In "Fluffy," by Archie Koenig, a cat is suddenly able to think and speak like a human and instead of sitting there, looking like she knows everything, lets her master know what's what about life — and him.

Kathleen Tomko's "What Say You?" is a surreal jaunt into the time of the French Revolution and includes an interview with Louis XVI in which Benjamin Franklin's aphorisms — "a penny saved ... " are tossed about to comic effect.

Greg Younger's "Sharp Intellect" studies the idea of owning things. If these things could speak, what would they say?

In "The Raincoat," winner of the 1980 Bulman Award, playwright Ruth Wire looks at life through the eyes of a child caught in the middle of a nasty divorce.

Tickets to the readings cost $10. Call 541-646-2971 or see www.ashlandcontemporarytheatre.org.