By Ilaria Cutolo

This past Sunday I was fortunate to view program #4 of the Chain Winter One Act Festival.   I review Dill, a directorial debut by Academy Award nominee actor Jessie Eisenberg, Graveyard Shift by Emma McGill, and Ten Minutes, Please by Gus Kaikkonen. With thought-provoking, original one-act plays, the festival returns to the Chain Theater, an independent theater venue, featuring over 60 new and live works by independent artists. Don’t miss it! It runs now through March 3rd.


Dill (or The Pickle Guy) 

A relatable topic for many, is this charming one-act, about the complexities of dating that attempts to understand the lengths people will go to for connection.  Justine (Brunner) plays a charmingly earnest yet insecure woman who wants the date to go well. She’ll do whatever it takes to win her date over, even going so far as to co-opt his pickling profession as an interest of hers to appear more interesting and hopefully go on a second date. After she spills her guts about a childhood affliction, he finally confesses, a little too late, that he is married. This is actor Jessie Eisenberg’s directorial debut.

Written by Jeryl Brunner and directed by Jessie Eisenberg.

Performed by Ben McHugh and Jeryl Brunner. Produced by Anna Strout and Barbara Toy.


Graveyard Shift

In Graveyard Shift, written and performed by Emma McGill, we meet fiery and fearless Emma, a 20-something contestant on a late-night game show Graveyard Shift! The challenge is to get a job and keep it for an entire year and win the grand prize of job-sponsored health insurance. On stage with minimal props-a paper hand puppet, and a burlesque sequence while roller skating, McGill’s darkly quirky and spontaneous humor is both captivating and jarring. Meanwhile, Emma has an unfortunate affliction-everyone she knows keeps on dying. In this absurdist one-act comedy performance we are tasked with the question: how does one keep their humanity in our current work culture?

Written by Emma McGill and directed by Sam Lane.

Performed by Emma McGill.


Ten Minutes, Please

We are introduced to a blunt Shakespearean actor clad in ostentatious garb who tries to strike up a conversation with a shy and nervous Wall Street woman who awaits instructions at her very first audition. The troupe’s director has convinced her to leave her status quo existence and angry husband behind and to instead, audition for a small role in a rag-tag troupe. I found myself routing for this woman to take that irresponsible, yet magical and self-illuminating leap into the unknown.  This short but powerful one-act challenges our beliefs about our roles and the possibilities and consequences of altering and challenging our realities.

Written and directed by Gus Kaikkonen.

Performed by Cornelia Davis, Alycia Kunkle, and Lisa Bostnar.


 Chain Theatre, Kirk Gostkowski, Artistic Director, Rick Hamilton, Managing Director, Christina Elise Perry, Director of Development, is pleased to announce the 2024 edition of the CHAIN WINTER ONE-ACT FESTIVAL, featuring the stage-directorial debut of Academy Award nominee Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), a new work by acclaimed playwright Taiwo Aloba (The Gospel of Efunroye), and Carlo Marks (Smallville, Pretty Little Liars, The 100) solo performance.  The festival will feature over 60 new plays at the Chain Theater (312 W 36th St, 3rd & 4th Floor, New York, NY, 10018). The festival begins Thursday, February 8, and continues through Sunday, March 3.  Tickets will be $22 in advance and $25 at the door. More information is available at Running Time: 70-90 minutes depending on the program block.