08 December 2007

Short and Sweet 07 Week 1 Wildcards

Short and Sweet 2007 Week 1 Wildcards 8 December 2007
The Arts Centre, Fairfax Theatre

The first of the Short and Sweet 07 Wildcard sessions offered a diverse group of plays in terms of content and quality. The focus was on works developing from different processes; including group devised, group written, the winner of the Short and Sweet schools’ program and a selection from the Monday night Crash Test season at Dantes.

Patricia Corneulis’ play was all about being good, whether it was playing football or simply being a good fuck. The direction was uneven and stilted and the cross between narrative and action wasn’t clean or clear. I have no idea why characters were left on the stage “watching” action that didn’t relate to their story. By standing around like shag on a rock, they drew attention away from the action. Sylvie was the only character who really came to life and was interesting. I really think this would have worked better if it was a monologue by Doug. His story is great, but the telling may be better in a different form.

Sage and Maximillian
Brooke Fairly’s piece combined narrative and action very well. The complex plot was sometimes dense and difficult to follow, but the telling was poetic and Terri Brabon directed it with a gentle and beautiful theatricality. Nonetheless I was left wondering how she leant her curse was a gift.

The Empty Space
Chris Dickens directed his own work. The writing itself is poetic and beautiful, but the telling was confusing and the plot didn’t come together until the last moments. It may have benefited from the impartial eye of another director. Penelope Jade Philippiadis’ performance was one of the best of the afternoon.

The Jumping Play
Every time I see Angus Cerini on stage, he’s in underwear. This time he jumps. Even if it’s more a sketch that a play, it was still very funny, original and engaging. It played with form and performance and was of my favourites.

Sweet’n’Sour Circus presented a sweet ‘n’ cute shadow puppet story, but I was waiting for something to happen. I kept thinking that the puppet story was an introduction to the real play – but it wasn’t. The final joke when the real pirates appear ended with them bowing, not carrying on with the story. Turns out this is the opening scene of a longer work. This explains a lot. I suspect the full work will be very good. But if it isn’t a stand alone short piece, why was it in this festival?

Good characters, good performances and lots and lots SMS jokes. Sometimes the jokes got in the way of the story, but it was still engaging and fun. Having three writers helped to create very different voices for the characters, which was tightly directed to create a smooth final piece.

The Salsa Slur
This was a group devised piece created to deal with the fact that there STILL aren’t enough good roles being written for women. This process also allowed authentic and real characters to be created by the actors (I am of the school that calls male and female performers actors. We don’t have directresses, playwrightesses, designeresses and journalistesses). My mini-rant aside, this process developed an engaging and funny work. I would have really liked to see some use of the Salsa though. As it stood, it could just have easily have been set in a pilates or a pottery class.

Double Dana
Christina Costigan’s script focussed too much on the writing. We were listening to the very clever writing, rather than being immersed into the lives of the characters. Serial monogamy is a common theme. Perhaps Dana needed to come across something unexpected?

This was the winner of the Fast and Fresh program run in high schools. Melbourne Girls College deservedly won with this satirical and fun piece, which stood equally with all the other Wildcards. The imagery was sometimes obvious and the characters fell into stereotypes, but it presented a very clear voice and message about the teen view of technology and resources.

Death by 1000 cuts
In a program of this quality I don’t expect to use the word overacted. I don’t know if it was the direction or the excitement of the performance, but neither character seem authentic or believable. I didn’t believe for a minute that Josh wanted to kill himself and the change in Ang was too sudden and not consistent with her earlier character. Mika Tsio’s script is well written and well structured, but needs a bit of work on the characters and would have benefited from clearer and firmer direction.

This review appeared on AussieThearte.com.

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