Jasmine Brooks and Tina Kumpel in \u201c#solestories: or a play staged around a lot of feet.\u201d (Mike Landsman) You get a sense of journey from Renee Calarco\u2019s \u201c#Solestories: Or a Play Staged Around a Lot of Feet\u201d \u2014 and not just because the title implies the idea of steps. This still-rough-hewn piece, which the playwright refers to as an \u201cexperiment,\u201d gambles with form: The script is based on Instagram posts. Perhaps reflecting the challenges of translating social media into stage drama, director Deborah Randall\u2019s spare production for Venus Theatre feels like the beginnings of a trek to find the material\u2019s ideal nondigital shape. Humor and tangy writing do intermittently jazz up the production, based on an Instagram project of local playwright Calarco\u2019s that involved photographing commuters\u2019 shoes and writing accompanying caption-scale stories. In the play, the undertaking is the brainchild of the prickly Vie (Jasmine Brooks), whose cyber-fiction obsession frustrates her neglected lover, Lia (Tina Kumpel). Between sequences that depict Vie\u2019s life, the play dramatizes the Instagram vignettes: Ensemble members Claire Gallagher, Graham Pilato and Jane Petkofsky roam the alley-style staging area, delivering snippets of narration and conjuring characters, such as the woman who frets that she shares her name with a celebrity, or the animal lover who hares off in a minivan with three adopted dogs. The play doesn\u2019t root the vignettes firmly enough in Vie\u2019s existence, and fails to give her own story a satisfying arc. In general, the dramaturgical structure and pacing are too loose. But the script abounds with piquant turns of phrase. \u201cCleo\u2019s anxiety finally up and left, looking for someone else who\u2019d appreciate the creative effort it took to bore into a skull and pierce a heart and slither into nightmares,\u201d begins one mini-tale. The production benefits greatly from the terrific Brooks, who infuses even prosaic moments \u2014 chitchat with Lia over potato chips, for instance \u2014 with interesting inflections and intense personality. (The other performers deliver their lines in sturdy fashion but lack Brooks\u2019s arresting vitality.) Matty Griffiths and Rebecca Ellis in \u201cGwen and Ida.\u201d (Tony Hitchcock) For all its flaws, \u201c#Solestories\u201d displays ingenuity and vigor that are lacking in the stodgy \u201cGwen & Ida: The Object Is of No Importance\u201d another new work about female artistry. Written by David S. Kessler (whose works have appeared at the Capital Fringe Festival), directed by Lynn Sharp Spears and produced by Nu Sass Productions and Uncle Funsy Productions, the play recalls the careers of Ida Lupino (1918-1995) and Gwen John (1876-1939). After making her name as an actress (\u201cHigh Sierra,\u201d etc.), Lupino became a trailblazing film and television director. John was a significant Welsh-born artist (and also Auguste Rodin\u2019s lover and Augustus John\u2019s sister). In the play, Ida (Rebecca Ellis) barges in on studio bigwig Jack Warner (Matty Griffiths) to pitch a movie about the deceased Gwen. After Gwen herself (Aubri O\u2019Connor) materializes to quibble with Ida\u2019s approach, the women engage in mutually supportive retrospection, recalling struggles and breakthroughs in a patriarchal world. While O\u2019Connor\u2019s acting is stiff, Ellis creates a reasonably sharp profile for Lupino, and looks every inch the Hollywood golden-age VIP. (Bridgid Burge designed the costumes and the low-key studio-office set.) And Griffiths is funny as the exasperated Jack. But the storytelling in \u201cGwen & Ida\u201d is simultaneously ploddingly direct and \u2014 what with the talky reminiscences \u2014 lacking in immediacy. One applauds Kessler for striving to rescue Lupino and John from obscurity. Maybe in a future draft of the play, the rescue journey won\u2019t be such a slog. #Solestories: Or a Play Staged Around a Lot of Feet, by Renee Calarco. Direction, costumes and props, Deborah Randall; set and lights, Amy Belschner Rhodes; sound, Neil McFadden. 90 minutes. $20. Through June 22 at Venus Theatre, 21 C St., Laurel, Md. venustheatre.org. Gwen & Ida: The Object Is of No Importance, by David S. Kessler. Directed by Lynn Sharp Spears; lights, Helen Garcia-Alton; sound, Charles Lasky. 90 minutes. $20. Through June 29 at Caos on F, 923 F St. NW. nusass.com.