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.