Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Short & Sweet Festival 2006, Melbourne, Nov 29, 2006

 What: Short & Sweet Festival 2006

Where and When: Fairfax Studio, Victorian Arts Centre until Dec 17, 2006

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

The Short & Sweet Festival, a play-writing competition for ten minute plays, runs over three weeks at the Fairfax Studio. In Week One, the quality of the ten productions varies wildly in script, direction and acting.

The most compelling and dramatic writing is in Relics, by Brett Danalake and Iain Triffitt. It is a cleverly wrought story of a Jewish woman who collects Nazi memorabilia, her most recent collectable being an horrific souvenir of her dead husband. The performances are very strong and the ending rivetting.

The Emotional Anatomy of a Relationship Breakdown (Suzie Miller) is a simple idea that comes to life on the stage with a capable cast. Miller effectively uses the device of having three actors play both the man and the woman in the relationship.

Memoirs (Emma Henshall, Ella Fenwick, Brian Opedal, Skye Gellman) approaches playwriting from the point of view of non-verbal, devised theatre. This melancholy and lyrical piece uses circus and movement in a non-verbal exploration of relationship and memory.

Other plays have some interesting elements but do not fulfil their potential. The 11 O’Clock (Josh Lawson) is a comedy sketch portraying a psychiatric patient who believes he is psychiatrist. When We Fall (Tamara Searle), a series of interlacing monologues, is initially poetic and obtuse but makes sense by the end.

Charlie (Iresha Herath), about a boy who has a crush on his grandparents’ farmhand, is a little heavy-handed as is Moving Fast (Adam Gelin), a broad comedy about an unemployed man who decides to take over the world and become an aboriginal-Muslim – all this while his wife is buying milk.

Eight Gen X Women (Rachel Ford), reads like a diary of young women lamenting their love lives. The stage is crowded with eight actors and the incorporation of singing and direct address does not always work.

Jack Rabbit (Gareth Ellis) is so abstract and wacky that its intention is unclear while Spring Session (Chris Hodson) relies heavily on two actors playing very cute dogs and a few repetitive jokes about Kim Beasley and John Howard.

A couple of themes pervade the plays: relationships and loss with a touch of madness thrown in. The great advantage with Short and Sweet is that, if you do not enjoy one play, it lasts only ten minutes and there are nine more.

By Kate Herbert

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