Do you have a theater date for this weekend? Just as “Gone Fishin’” signs start popping up in box office windows of DC’s bigger theater houses for the summer, audiences are queuing up for at least three different experimental festivals. What stroke of genius assembled this bill of fare? Is Source the appetizer whetting the community’s appetite for Fringe? Would you like some Hip-Hop on the side? Or do some folks fill up on Source and then take a doggy bag for Fringe? I see this as drama tapas, small helpings for everyone at the table to share (and to discuss on the Fringe and Purge blog).

While Fringe and Source are both experimental laboratories and incubators of new talent, they differ in that Fringe is uncurated, whereas Source hand-picks talent from around town to create new, exciting projects. For this final week, Source commissioned one-acts from standout playwrights behind last year’s 10-minute plays. OK, I’ll admit I went to see Group F last night because I’m a huge fan of HBO’s “The Wire” and I wanted to see Delaney Williams (the artist formerly known as Bill Delaney) in Her Love Was Vertigo.

Willams plays John Fox, an unapologetic womanizer living lay to lay, and (as if that weren’t bad enough) trading securities to manipulate markets as shamefully as he manipulates people. Actually, he’s a kind of likable guy. We meet Fox mid-hangover, as he charms a cuckolded would-be murderer (Daniel Eichner) into being his biographer. Enter two seductive women (Annie Grier and Kimberly Schraf), and cue the love triangle.

Playwright Estep Nagy has a knack for snappy repartee, but in this staged reading, actors, particularly Williams, struggled to deliver lines with consistent motivation, sometimes falling flat (maybe by their third try on Sunday they’ll learn the script). The act runs an hour and forty minutes; I’m no editor, but Fox’s paroxysms on economics didn’t do it for me. The plotting and sex, however, never got old.

By contrast, The Mating of Angela Weiss, by Renee Calarco, was about a lack of sex. Angela (Yasmin Tuazon) learns timing is everything as she tries to breed captive pandas (given their sex drive, it’s no wonder they’re almost extinct). As much as she wants a baby panda, her mother, who adopted Angela from China, wants to get pregnant. Poignant performances illustrate the parallels in their lives as the play seamlessly jumps to Angela’s childhood and back. Barbara Papendorp and Francisco Reinoso round out other characters (including the best pandas I’ve ever seen portrayed on stage). This endearing gem alone is worth the $18 admission.

GROUP F OF THE SOURCE FESTIVAL ONE ACT PLAYS PERFORM JULY 10TH AT 8 P.M. AND JULY 11TH AT 2 P.M. AT THE SOURCE, 1835 14TH STREET NW. (866) 811-4111

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