Thursday, 11 December 2008

Short and Sweet 2008, Dec 11, 2008 ***1/2

Short and Sweet 2008 
Week Two
Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre, until Dec 20
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ***1/2

If you don’t like one play at the Short and Sweet short play festival, wait 10 minutes and you get a completely new one. The program in Week Two of the Festival comprises performances by 10 Independent Theatre Ensembles. (Weeks 1 and 3 are individual playwrights).

Only one of the ensembles credits a playwright. The rest, presumably, were devised by performers with a director. This form of creative development of a theatrical product produces a smorgasbord of styles and content and the high level of collaboration and commitment is evident. All 10 pieces are rich in character, inventive in style and form, tightly directed and skilfully performed. What is noticeable in most is a non-linear structure and reliance on physical rather than text-based performance.

Several themes are apparent in the plays. Death and illness provide content for four. Tea For Two, one of the two strongest works, is a clever acrobatic narrative in which two men deal with a dead woman. Bodybag is a dialogue-based duet about the suicide of a celebrity while Tinsel Town is an amusing Gothic horror satire. Finding Your Place portrays a writer who suffers dementia, trying to hold memories of characters she wrote.

Other pieces deal with relationships. With their inimitable stylised movement with music, Born In A Taxi present my other favourite, the charming and playful 6 Hours Later. Last Drinks experiments with repetition and deconstruction of a scene at a club and Match sees a couple communicating through little creatures made from modelling clay. Morbid Porn is a wild and sexy ride with a woman seducing a tiny puppet.

 Fractured fairy tales provide content for After the Tower – a comical dance-based piece about Rapunzel’s conjoined twin daughters – and Grimm that features seven quirky clowns re-telling the story of Snow White.

This program has a rich variety of work, some fine individual performances but the pieces that excel are 6 Hours Late and Tea For Two.

By Kate Herbert

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