By Erica Brennan
Week two of Short and Sweet at King Street theatre was a mostly enjoyable evening with a variety of theatrical offerings. I really do find it difficult to review these short plays because despite my personal taste or critique I can see that a lot of heart and bravery goes into each piece. But we persevere…
First up was ‘Disposable’ written by Jodi Cramond and directed by Rachel Chant. I was very impressed with the play’s opening moments and its use of silence as we watched a man convince himself to jump off his milk create ledge. As his argument unfolded for suicide he became engaged in a verbal sparring match with two bystanders. Delightfully surreal plot points and simple staging were ‘Disposables’ strong points but the characterisation was a bit too showy to do the script enough justice. Lines were being overplayed where restraint may have been more endearing to its arguments.
Next was ‘A Burning Ambition’ by Cerise de Galder; A fictionalised take on the story Joan of Arc. It focuses on a moment where Joan informs her childhood friends of her mission from god. I thought the subject matter was absolutely fascinating and the script made some bold choices to blend archaic and modern terms. With maybe a little more workshopping it could be a striking combination of language but a reliance on gags and out of place comedy left me confused as an audience member. Lovely engaging performances from Gabriella Florek with her stage mates only a step or two behind.
Third in the line-up was the thriller-movie-esque ‘Bus Trip’ by Kathry Yuen. A monologue delivered with confidence and charm by Michela Carattni and strongly staged by Alison Albany. A woman rides the bus the first time. She is excited by her freedom before her life is ended so quickly that she doesn’t even realise it’s her lifeless body the other passengers are running from. I enjoyed the drama of it and its ‘Sixth Sense’ twist of plot which I never saw coming.
Next we had ‘The gospel According to Bowser’ an absurd piece where the family pet dog Bowser explains the creation of his gospel – his owners at the top and the pound as purgatory. It was a very funny piece and incredibly detailed in its performance. The cat (Kim-Cuong Do) and dog Bowser (Chris Miller) are hilariously convincing and committed in their portrayal of the household pets. Your heart breaks a little bit when cat, Pussums ,introduces the idea of the universe as a random place and shakes Bowsers world to the core. A clever little piece in every way.
The final piece on offer before interval was ‘Diet Dilemma’ a humours look at the ‘new age’ fear and control issues associated with what we consume. Director Jacque Vickers does a great job of bringing out the comedy in the piece. The Actors, however, looked far too aware of themselves, almost breaking into laughter a few times but also obviously enjoying themselves which is always a pleasure to watch.
First up after interval was the rather serious ‘Shockhold Syndrome’ written and directed by Sandy Maestro. This exploration of victim’s attachment to their abuser was written smartly and with excellent use of repetition and subtle shifts of language. I was quickly drawn into the complexity of the two women’s situations and curious as to how it could unfold. I found the performances quite strong and was happy to sit and listen for quite some time only wishing the awkward staging had supported the text better.
Next was ‘Snapped’ by Sally Davies. A satisfying round of storytelling even if the premise of broken relationships due to a falsified photograph was somewhat ordinary. It was an easy piece to watch, very engaging because of the many direct address to the audience. I found the characterisation somewhat laid back and wondered how the story would have benefited with more energy from the performers.
Number 8 on our list was ‘Waiting’ by Kylie Rackham and directed beautifully by Heidi Lupprian. Mrs O’donnell befriends a young man named Mark who loves music but lacks almost everything else in life. A unique story of friendship and guilt. An ambitious story for ten minutes with the charters meeting building a relationship, losing Mark to a car accident and finally Mrs O’donnle provides a heartbreaking affirmation that it was not her fault. Quite an arc, but performed commendably by actors Sandra Cample and Challito Browne.
Second to last was ‘2 count’ by Jodi Cramond. A Short and Sweet Dubbo winner staged aptly by Lisa Eismen. I thought it was a very human enquiry into one man’s struggle with OCD. At times I felt the character was being portrayed as ‘crazy’ when the text cried out for more normalisation of his behaviours. Performer Nick Dale at time is truly charming. Some startling philosophical revelations come from a man who believes ‘to count is to know’ and expresses the fear of having a story but no purpose which left me hanging on his every word. I was impressed with the use of repetition to drive dramatic points home. A wonderful inclusion in the festival.
And lastly we had ‘Rick and Rod’ by A. Patrick Nilan. A comical duologue between two penises. I really was hoping to make it through a Short and Sweet season without a penis play but as far as they go this was quite good. The costumes where phenomenal and detailed and quite confronting. It was very cleaver and beautiful characterisations from Patrivk Nilan and Alastair Buchanan. Their performance as the confused and friendly male organs should be commended.
By Erica Brennan
Short and sweet is a 10 min play festival running for over 10 years in Sydney and more recently in India and New Zealand. I think it has been an excellent choice to keep the number of entrants at ‘top 80’ instead of ‘110’ like the last time I saw it. The standard was markedly improved all round, and it was also a real treat to see the Mumbai winners of Short a Sweet perform ‘Cine-ma’; definitely a highlight of the evening.
I battled public transport and unfortunately missed the first show on Saturday night but the snappy dialogue, live sound effects and audience giggle boded well for ‘Checkout’ by Pete Malilici (Director Writter) and I am sorry I did not get to witness it.
Second on the list was ‘Emergency Exit Aisle’ Written by Will North and Directed by Karen Bayly. A recently estranged couple are stuck on an awkward flight home and suffer life altering turbulence. I found the writing pretty obvious with the emotional changes coming too fast in the characters even for a light-hearted piece of comedy. Simple effective staging and attention to detail by the three performers (Nick Barkl, Nic Verhoeven and Florence Kermet) were its strengths.
Next up was ‘Deceit’ written and directed by Uma Kali. It wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the program notes but the story line is a more modern take on a Roald Dhal story. Its modernisation of including a lesbian coupling and contemporising of Dahls fur coat gift to a stunning jewel necklace was welcome. However I felt that the dialogue was once again more concerned with setting up the final gag than any compelling story telling.
Fourth in the line up was ‘Handyman’ written by Kerry Bowden and Directed by Stephen Wallace. Emily Kivilcin performs a funny monologue of a young woman who discovers her Bunning’s Warehouse lover is stooping his clients with ease and clarity. The staging is dynamic and uncluttered. The only off moment was the bloody climax, I felt the overly comic portrayal of a man having his throat torn into with a saw was at odds with the rather gory speech. I would have loved to have seen the character turn very dark and not gloss over it as if murder was nothing to her.
Next was piece was ‘Clean Break’ by Tom Jensen and directed by Jacque Vickers. It shows us the final exciting moments before a wedding shattered by the groom calling it off. His reasons, while in theory are sound, ring strikingly untrue because of the pontificating dialogue. The grooms proclamation ‘there is no god’ and ‘we are all specks’ are delivered in such a way that I was left very unconvinced that this man had ever really thought about any so terrifying. In an awkward final moment of comedy the bride leaves devastated and the groom reveals his true reason for calling off the wedding. A burning passion for the mother of the bride.
The final piece before interval was Short and Sweet Mubia winner but ‘Cine-ma’ (Best line: Not YOUR-ma not my MA) A physical and aural delight the actors Ajay Ayyappan, Pooja Balu and Venkatesh Harinathan flung us into young Indian girls dilemma of being consumed by the cinema. Directed and Written by Mathivanan Rajendran, I wanted the piece to continue on it also but managed to stand beautifully as a 10 minute play. It’s storytelling and emotional dynamism absolutely suburb and entrancing.
After interval we were introduced to ‘The Fox and the Hunter’ written by Simon Godfrey and directed by James Heartly. A fox and a hunter meet to discuss an end to their long rivalry but really the hunter just begs the fox to let him kill him. An easy script to listen to but clumsily staged. Key moments lost in confusing blocking and no tension for the comedic gages to be pulled off. Kudos for the costume and set design very well taken care off for a 10 min piece.
Next was ‘G’, created and performed by Miranda Drake on what I believe is a subject close to her heart; her G cup breasts. My hackles also rose when the story veered towards the idea that a woman’s real virtue is as a mother, however she should be applauded for her bravery and there were moments of real humour in the piece but a lack of solid storytelling and clarity in progression made it a bit hard to watch. I hope Miranda Drake keeps working and perfecting her craft, and that we see more work from her in the future.
3rd last for the evening was ‘I Know, I Know’ by Grant J Venables a script which had incredible potential as a piece of Absurdist theatre with its long streams of cliché teenage angst and one character only ever saying ‘I know, I know.’ The staging was awkward, giving context to a piece that didn’t need it, while never being clear about the characters relationship. One may have been referred to as ‘Dad’ the whole time but I was left very confused as to where and who these people were.
Next came ‘Team Building Activity’ written and directed by Phillip Gallop. A stellar cast in David B Fowler, Roslyn Hicks, Hannah Forsyth and Phillip himself, the group hitting all the right comedic notes and taking us on a bizarre corporate team building exercise ride with ease. I was particularly charmed by Hanna Forsyth when she put on a blind fold and had to do the rest of the piece without sight. It was very sweet for some reason.
Finally was ‘Do Not Disturb’ written and directed by Robert Sharpe. Another excellent 10 minute comedy where an uptight retirement home worker FINAALLY has a naughty- good-time with a 90 plus year-old resident. The cast again stellar, they underplayed the comedy brilliantly and I would love to see this team take ‘Do Not Disturb’ (or similar) and turn it into a pilot for TV. It has excellent potential.
All in all an enjoyable evening and now I eagerly await week 2 of Short and Sweet.
Actress sought for Short & Sweet production. King Street Theatre. February 13 – 17, to be directed by Peter Shelley.
Strictly Business is a comic drama. A two-hander, it presents the relationship between Barnabas Reilly who is a businessman and his former secretary, Sandra Griffiths, whom he has previously fired. She follows him to the train he catches to go home, seeking revenge with a gun.
Sandra is a woman with an emotionally unstable past, having spent time in a mental institution. She has not worked since being fired by Barnabas. She is of a homely appearance, and aged between 30s – 50s.
Approx 10 – 15 hours rehearsal time needed. To take place at the Stanmore Community Church Hall. Times preferred pm, afternoon to evening.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact number is 0403296142.
Lane Cove Theatre Company
Directed by Dan Graham
Lane Cove Uniting Church
Cox’s Lane Activities Room. Corner of Cox’s Lane and Finlayson Street, Lane Cove.
To book an audition time please contact lanecovetheatre
Please ensure that you have read the play and are familiar with the script.
Prepare a suitable 2 min monologue and read the audition passages on our website atwww.lanecovetheatrecpmpany.com (under the auditions tab). If you have any problems downloading these passages please advise us so they can be sent to you in email form.
You will be asked to read from these passages so be familiar with them.
Reverend Parris: mid 40s. A widower with little understanding of children. Before entering the ministry, Parris was a merchant in Barbados, and his ministry still bears signs of his business background.
Betty Parris: Parris’s young daughter, whose illness sparks the action of the play.
Tituba: F, 40s. Parris’s servant, brought back from Barbados.
Abigail Williams: late teens, an orphan, living with Rev. Parris, who is her uncle. Older than Betty, and able to influence the other girls.
Susanna Walcott: teenager, younger than Abigail, and easily led by her, Susanna is a nervous girl. She works for the local doctor, Dr Briggs.
Ann Putnam: married to Thomas Putnam, an influential family in Salem. But of eight children born to her, only one daughter has survived, and she is jealous of Rebecca’s large family.
Thomas Putnam: the eldest son of the richest man in the village, and with a high opinion of his own intellect. Married to Ann.
Mercy Lewis: Miller describes her as “merciless”. She is the Putnam’s servant. Late teens.
Mary Warren: late teens. The Proctor’s servant. Naïve and subservient, she is easily swayed by Abigail.
John Proctor: a hard working farmer in his thirties. Well respected in Salem and not easily influenced by others.
Rebecca Nurse: early 70s. Held in very high regard in the village, Rebecca is gentle and kind. She has eleven children and twenty six grandchildren!
Giles Corey: a farmer in his early eighties, and going deaf, Giles is nevertheless a determined protector of his rights and property; to which end he has been in court six times during the year.
Reverend John Hale: nearly 40; he is confident in his abilities as a specialist in ascertaining witchcraft, which he has studied in detail.
Elizabeth Proctor: wife of John, she is “not wholly well”, perhaps since the birth of their third child.
Francis Nurse: Husband of Rebecca, whom he tries to protect when she is accused of witchcraft.
Ezekiel Cheever: Ezekiel is employed as a court official.
Marshal Herrick: is also employed by the court, but he is uncomfortable about some of the things he is expected to do.
Judge Hathorne: a lawyer from Boston, who is employed as the prosecutor.
Deputy Governor Danforth: confident and determined that the law must be upheld, even at the risk of obscuring the truth.
Sarah Good: a poor, confused beggar who is accused of witchcraft.
Hopkins: a messenger.
Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of its first staged production, Miller’s exquisite American tragedy is more relevant today than it ever was. A classic parable of mass hysteria, The Crucible draws a chilling parallel between the Salem witch-hunt of 1692 – ‘one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history’ – and the McCarthyism which gripped America in the 1950s. The story of how the small community of Salem is stirred into madness by superstition, paranoia and malice, culminating in a violent climax, is a savage attack on the evils of mindless persecution and the terrifying power of false accusations. A searing tale of belonging, intolerance, and moral courage that is destined to resonate for centuries to come. Winner of the 1953 Tony Award for Best Play.
This production will be staged from 17 May – 1 June 2013
For further enquiries or to book an audition time please email us atlanecovetheatre
Dear artists, friends, supporters of Short+Sweet and Sydney lovers of theatre!!
Festival Director Pete Malicki says the Open Dress Rehearsal of Short+Sweet Sydney 2013, Top 80 Week 1 was held last night and the show is looking fantastic. There’s a real mix of genres, styles, subject matter – comedies and drama, a company all the way from India presenting a multi-award-winning (and very engaging!) play, a choreographed satire on the life of a Coles checkout operator, the winner of Short+Sweet Dubbo, a monologue about living with big boobs, a play directed by screen director and teacher Stephen Wallace and a host of other quality works.
There are still plenty of seats left for any show this week – including tonight‘s Opening Night – so come along and see how we’re doing it this year. Tickets available for any Short+Sweet show here:
The media is full of talk about the festival… so pick up on the buzz and come on down to King Street Theatre in Newtown!