05 December 2007

Short and Sweet 07 Week 1 Top 10

Short and Sweet 2007 Week 1 Top 10
5 December 2007
The Arts Centre, Fairfax Theatre

‘Tis the season to watch many short plays. Short and Sweet 07 had 1141 script entries this year. 60 were chosen and the absolute best of this group will win a share of the $30 000 prize pool. Short and Sweet is addictive. One you’ve seen one night, you just can’t stop yourself coming back for more.

There are three weeks to the competition. Each week sees 10 of the Top 30 and 10 Wildcard performances. Scripts were entered from all over Australia and playwrights from 12 other countries also wanted to be involved in this fabulous program. The selected scripts are presented by some of Melbourne’s best independent directors and performers.

Week One’s Top 30 group willingly experimented with form and structure. Some succeeded in breaking new ground, while others could benefit from less focus on the brilliance of the writing and more on the telling of the story. Even in such a short format, a story needs a beginning, a middle and an end.

Sleeping Leeches
Liza Dezfouli explores love and dating when your nearly 40. Is it any different or do we start making choices that we would have rejected in our earlier years? There is some very beautiful, funny and emotionally honest writing in this work, but it needs something more to happen in the telling. A bit more action or a twist in the plot would help these excellent characters to tell a great story.

It’s an old story that can, and should, be told and retold. Why don’t we act when our friends are attacked and disappear? Sarah Giles directs Steven Hopley’s script with a highly effective theatricality. The characters are dressed in blueprints and pattens, but can’t see the obvious pattern appearing before them. The heightened performances support the comedy and keep us interested, even though we know what will happen.

Thrilling Hostage Melodrama at High Speeds With Pineapple
The title says it all. Reservoir Dogs with chicks. Adam Hadley’s script is a great contrast of characters and energy that is supported by good direction and good performances. It’s well paced, very funny and throws in a good mix of surprises.

The Gap
OK, I have to admit that I may really have been the most stupid person in the audience that night. I didn’t immediately realise that the people stuck in a glass round room, dressed in orange and called Nemo and Fishie were fish. I look so hard for the subtle, that I miss the bloody obvious! However, I thought it was a great piece of writing no matter what. Phoebe Harley directed her own script. At times it focused too much on the writing, but the repetition and the structure create good tension, good pace and lead to a suspenseful and perfect ending.

Hope Fades But The Duck Never Dies
Jane Miller’s script is emotionally real and engaging. She presents two very different perspectives of the same relationship and questions why we want to keep a relationship that we know is already destroyed. Her metaphors are sometimes a bit forced, but original and totally in accord with her style. This work may struggle against the funnier pieces and needs some more focussed direction, but I think it was the best written piece of the night.

Bury Your Goldfish
I knew that this one really had fish in it. Michelle Wallace has written a very original and engaging piece that compares a mother’s perspective of her teenage daughter to the perspective of the same daughter though the eyes of her goldfish. Using puppets and a delightful cardboard set, this work uses the visual as a vital part of the story telling. It should have worked better than it did. Form was distracting from story and the decision to have the mother reading from a lectern never made sense.

a ramble through the wooded glen
Neighbours meets Deliverance. Thomas Henning already knows that his piece will be remembered for a very, very long time by anyone who sees it. I’m still not 100% sure what it was about, but it was dark and absurd and combined violence with slapstick and was prepared to go places that many would dare not venture.

Michael Goes Home
Bridgette Burton has written a very clever and well structured piece. It tells its story well and reveals information gently and powerfully. It was directed in a way that focussed a bit too much on the form and structure, which lessened the impact of the characters and their story. A better balance is needed between the four characters to lift its emotional impact.

Love Story 2007
I’m afraid that too many people sniggered simply because a young man fancied an older woman. Why is this still the case? I’m pretty sure the giggles would never have surfaced if the gender of the characters was reversed. Anna Lall’s premise and plot are very good. Her dialogue needs some work and the characters need some fleshing out. As an audience we needed to see a genuine and sexual connection between these two to make us really want them to be together.

Carnal Pseudo-Skewered Pig
Jane E Thomson is one of the few writers who really let her characters change and created the action for changes and surprises. Director Yvonne Virsik keeps the action lively, funny and paces it perfectly to an excellent ending

This review appeared on AussieThearte.com.

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