Theatre Roulette has always stuck to the same template: It consists of three collections of short plays, and each collection is rotated to a different day each week, thus giving the annual festival its name.

Beyond that, MadLab has been steadily honing the Roulette format. The shows once tended to be endurance contests, slowed down by lengthy scene changes and long-winded previews of the other nights’ offerings. Recently, though, MadLab has worked to streamline the product.

Open Book, the collection that launched this year’s festival, may be the most streamlined yet. Efficiently and competently directed by Jim Azelvandre, it wraps up its seven plays in a mere 70 minutes.

Are the plays worth the modest investment in time and money? It all depends on your taste and temperament.

Those who eschew (rather than chew) animal products may not be amused by Alex Dremann’s Agnes and the Vegan Burrito, about a man (Chad Hewitt) who suspects his friend (Andy Batt) is having marital difficulties. Others will likely enjoy the wry piece, which asks whether blissful home life is possible when spouses don’t share dietary philosophies.

Viewers who appreciate a challenge may enjoy two additional looks at relationship problems.

Christopher Lockheardt’s Take the Words From Out of My Mouth is about a man (Casey May) who attempts to understand a woman (Mary Beth Griffith) afflicted by an odd speech impediment. It’s breezy and clever enough to be diverting, even if the point eludes you.

Less breezy is Lockheardt’s Lost in Thought, featuring Andy Woodmansee and Erin Prosser as a man and woman who take turns being preoccupied by their former couplehood. This time, the point is hammered home, but you may do some head-scratching along the way.

Theater people, in particular, will relate to Andrew Biss’s The Craft, which reveals the onstage thought processes of two actors (Travis Horseman and Prosser) who can’t stand each other. Prosser sometimes rushes her lines, but Horseman revels in his character’s catty opinions of his co-star, especially when he begins comparing her to a panda.

Viewers drawn to melodrama with a Southern accent may be interested in Erik Champney’s The Screens, starring Chad Hewitt as a deluded patient in a mental institution and Woodmansee as a visitor. It’s well-acted, but don’t expect much depth; Tennessee Williams, this is not.

A bit more interesting is Steven Korbar’s All the Way, largely because Azelvandre adds an air of mystery and menace as a man who hires a prostitute (an admirable Courtney Deuser) to perform a service that he refuses to divulge. If the piece seems familiar, it may be because you saw Shadowbox Live’s 2012 production of Lewis J. Carlino’s Snow Angel, a longer one-act with a similar theme. Unfortunately, both plays are weakened by their depiction of prostitutes who seem too emotionally vulnerable to survive in that line of work.

Finally, those with a taste for the silly will laugh their way through Mark Harvey Levine’s Workin’ on the Railroad, which involves Azelvandre, Chad Hewitt and others in a conversation that cribs lines from various folk tunes.

If Open Book sounds like too much of a mixed bag for you, you may prefer The Forgiveness Files, a collection consisting entirely of playlets written by Los Angeles playwright Kathlene McGovern. Or, if you want to patronize fellow Ohioans, you can opt for State’s Evidence, which features seven works by six Buckeyes.

Theatre Roulette runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through May 24 at MadLab Theatre and Gallery, 227 N. Third St. Open Book will be presented at 8 p.m. May 8, 16 and 24; State’s Evidence at 8 p.m. May 9, 17, 22 and 2 p.m. May 24; and The Forgiveness Files at 8 p.m. May 10, 15, 23 and 4 p.m. May 24. Tickets are $12, $10 for students/seniors, $8 for members. 614-221-5418 or