22 November 2009

Review: Short and Sweet 09 Top 30 Week 1

Short and Sweet 09 Top 30 Week 1
Short and Sweet
21 November 2009
Chapel off Chapel

For its fifth festival, Short and Sweet has moved to Chapel off Chapel. It’s still the most popular and prestigious short play event in town, but it seems to be turning into a launch pad for new writers, rather than a showcase for established writers.

This is great for the writers, who get to see their work performed, but disappointing for those of us who remember the addictive quality of the first Short and Sweets. Do established writers think that writing a ten-minute play is too easy or that it’s not what grown up writers do? Telling a story in ten minutes is harder than telling it in an hour, so, established writers, please start submitting again.

Or can there be a workshop process for the plays that are nearly there, but desperate for another draft or five.

Writing isn’t about having an opinion or putting words in an aesthetic order. It’s about telling a story (where things change) through characters who make us care and make us think about our own lives. Story and complex characters were generally missing from this week’s offerings. If a 30-second TV ad can tell a story, a ten-minute play can tell an epic.

Community Chest is about inverted nipples and nothing about communities. I think there was one great moment of revelation, but it got lost because everything was presented with the same level of intensity.

People remember things differently was the popular theme of the night. The direction saved Eyewitness, but it couldn’t make us care about these one-dimensional characters, who were far better realised than the offstage character whom we knew nothing about.

Frank Otis likes ranting about sex and women. Bucks Night is about stripping, so he pulled out some clichés (‘I’m stripping to put myself though law school – and here are my tits just in case you don’t believe my character’) and pulled out a gun.

The direction also saved Arabesque. Marina Lou wrote lovely words, but I can’t even remember what it was about. Oh yea, people remember things differently.

The engaging and delightful performances in Wrestling With Magpies were nearly as good as the jungle gym set. So why wasn’t it used? Like a pink Meccano elephant sitting on the stage, I kept waiting for it to be relevant.

“Droopy cock” was by far the best joke of the night and Haircuts had story and character, but I couldn’t get past the “mamma mia” “stupido”, “I dunna complain” wog accents that we haven’t heard since Kingswood Country was on the telly.

We can never have enough love stories or people not saying what they really want to say. The Rehearsal was my runner up favourite of the night, but I want to see it re-drafted to make us care about her and give them both something real to lose or gain.

None of the team should have regrets for No Regrets. This dud one night stand was the absolute winner of the night. This is the standard of writing, direction and performance I expect of this festival. I empathised, I cared and I didn’t know how it was going to end.

Alex Broun writers numerous plays based on popular culture and whatever pops up on his Facebook feed. Rupert and the Seven Russian Email Brides nailed it. I just wish that Rupert wasn’t as clichéd as his brides.

Fruits of War is a ten-minute metaphor, but told so very well.

This review appeared on AussieTheatre.com.
Week 2
Week 3

Short and Sweet 2006-08 reviews.

1 comment:

  1. I don't care if you rubbish my work that is yours and everyone elses right. But please get your facts right. For a start most of my plays including this one are either about male sexuality or political. I have written about everything from refugees (the first after Tampa) to workplace safety. I have also written childrens plays about voilence which won a goverment award. If you had bothered to google me this would have been easy to find out. As for cliches well it was based on a real stripper I know who is getting herself through law school. You seem to think that every play should be about boy meets girl "we can never have enough love stories" I'm afraid life is a bit more complex than that.
    Frank Otis