19 December 2007

Short and Sweet 07 Week 3 Top 10

Short and Sweet 2007 Week 3 Top 10
19 December 2007
The Arts Centre, Fairfax Theatre

I wasn’t blown away by Short and Sweet’s Week Three Top 10. There was a lot of issue writing and point making this week and content seemed more important than story. Theatre can tell us about issues so powerfully, but when it becomes preachy it so often falls flat.

Brocade Sonata
The complex staging of Machination Theatre’s piece overwhelmed the writing and the story. What was the narrator’s story? She could have been reciting the alphabet. The direction was more interested in showing off the contorting and twisting bodies of its cast than telling a story. It was meant to be erotic and seductive. It came across as naughty (not even funny) innuendo. And “He is erect. She is moist.” Dull writing or was it describing that he was standing and she was a bit sweaty under the lights, because they certainly didn’t seem interested in each other.

Bomb Disposal
Kate Toon knows how to write a short play. She deftly combined past tense description with present action, balanced the authentic characters well, gave an original plot that surprised and maintained interest and actually gave her characters problems that resulted in definitive action. Supported by engaging performances and well paced direction, this was my favourite of the night.

Uncontrollable Performance Art Moments
Nothing like a few funny costumes and wacky dance moves to get an audience laughing. Simon Brook has written a cute story about the absurdity and passion of the performance artist. As everyone was caricatures, I would have liked to see them more absurd and outrageous.

The Gentleman Had an Axe
David Astle’s ambitious script about football, fatherhood and the white settlement of Melbourne suffered with its direction. The complex structure and multi-time plot became confusing and the decision to have black playing white and white playing black sometimes seemed contrived, rather than powerful. It’s of those pieces where the structure and writing were so good that they overtook the story telling. Show more, tell less and work on gaining audience empathy for the characters.

Word Space
I liked the kerning joke. I don’t know if it did anything for the characters or the story, but it was a nice joke for anyone who deals with printed text. Elizabeth Bennett really seemed to want to write about the “No War” protest painted on the Sydney Opera House. Shame, because somewhere in the story is a very funny character and situation that didn’t get the chance to be appear. A graffiti artist who corrects the grammar of other street artists. That’s a brilliant start to a piece. The two kids on the opera house wondering if they were going to get shot and debating the value of protest was a bit dull. Please write something else about the grammar corrector.

You Me and Desiree Potato
Lovely, gentle performances sustained Lachlan Philpott’s piece. The writing was poetic and would be beautiful to read, but it didn’t work as a play. This would be a stunning short story.

Blindingly Obvious Facts
It’s great to see a Ben Ellis piece again. The writing was complex, but clear, yet it suffered, like many others tonight, by having the content dominate the story. I liked hearing the different opinions as I am interested in the content. However I needed to see the play give the audience a reason to watch these people and listen. They were directed as disjointed voices and opinions, not as people who we were interested in and wanted to listen to. The final moment with the silent Rachel was nonetheless stunning.

No it wasn’t. It was OK. It was nicely written and structured by Aaron Scully and well performed. The direction was based on one idea and a bit stilted. There wasn’t a moment when we didn’t know every single thing that was going to happen to these two people. Please do something nasty or funny or absurd or surprising to these soap worthy characters. Cute, romantic, happy ending stories are perfect dinner table conversations – this is theatre, you can do so much more.

I almost really loved Krista Dalby’s piece, until the conclusion. It deftly explored the different perspectives of the same relationship. The office romance story can so easily be boring, but this was told with a freshness that overcame any issues of predictability. We cared about these people and understood why they acted liked they did. Then their skyscraper building exploded (or perhaps a plane flew into it……) I’m guessing it was meant to be sobering and poignant. Sometimes the brilliant idea you have when you start writing becomes the thing that should get cut.

A Dish Best Served Cold
Frank Otis wrote some very, very, very angry hurt women. This play went in hard and tried to shock. It's an angry, rape revenge piece. The content was far more important than the characters who become stereotyped revenge filled anger demons. Each woman needed to be much broader to become real on that stage. Some of what they said was superb – but got lost in the anger. Maybe it would have worked as a series of monologues without the actual presence of the rapist. Then we could hear their stories, rather than waiting for them to sodomise him with the large stick.

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