It’s been a fun month of snappy, quickfire performances and sadly it will all be over soon – I can’t believe Short+Sweet is about to come to a close! Week 2, the final heat of the Theatre category opened on Tuesday and like the other two rounds that preceded it, the evening was brimming with an entertaining assortment of plays for us to sink our teeth into. Here’s what I thought:
Feature Wall 5/5
Two seemingly ordinary besties share a morbid night-time activity and looks at what happens when two women scorned take matters in to their own hands. The narrative is superbly paced and takes a macabre twist when we finally see what lies beyond the curtained backdrop. A humorously dark piece which suggests that sometimes revenge can be best served in another way other than cold.
Where You’d Least Expect 5/5
A pair of fellow nervous wallflowers meet at a “party” and amiss the awkward social situation of their surroundings forge an unexpected connection. The performers are perfectly cast, delivering great comic tension and a tangible awkwardness that was a delight to watch. This charming play is extremely endearing and a highly amusing alternate to the typical romantic comedy.
A Maori conman easily dupes a gullible Pakeha in to participating in several “free” games of heads or tails. The latter gets completely sucked in to the conman’s ploy even though it is glaringly obvious that he is being tricked in to giving away his money. This comedy based on a true story is entertaining enough however I found the repetitive nature of it got a little tiring towards the end.
Two male spiders moan and share stories about their hungry and horny wives. We soon learn that in the world of spiders, the stereotypical gender roles are reversed – the men are over-sensitive creatures craving intimacy while the women are alpha (fe)males with an irascible temperament. A cheeky and humorous play that effectively puts an arachnid spin into everyday relationship scenarios.
This solo centers around Sophie, a cynical and overly suspicious borderline crazy cat lady who has been single on Valentine’s Day for the past sixteen years. A bouquet of flowers from an anonymous admirer sends her on a tailspin and we follow her as she prepares and counts down to this blind date. The narrative is incredibly well written with a good dose of self-deprecating humor and is superbly performed; I particularly enjoyed how the story switches between the first and third person perspective.
Our Last Holiday 5/5
Tim, a struggling filmmaker is poring through scripts over shots of whiskey when Helen arrives to collect her things. The two ex-lovers clearly had a rocky relationship and a bitter end but their argument is cut short at the arrival of another visitor. A cleverly crafted piece with a brilliant twist and emotionally stirring resolution, this moving piece ends the first half of the evening on a high.
Fruit Salad 4/5
A naive and free-spirited father seeks help from his daughter when he unwittingly gets involved in a drug scandal. As the narrative unfolds, it is evident that the role of parent and child has reversed as the daughter pleas desperately with her father to behave responsibly. A riotous tale with great comedic value, this piece is one of the most entertaining short stories in the bill.
Lust Is Blind 3/5
If our body parts and organs could talk, what would they say? This cute and quirky play explores this very question in an unorthodox love story which involves jealousy, confusion and eventually escape. It does take a while to build up and to fully connect with who’s who but apart from that this was a clever piece using creative storytelling and performed enthusiastically by a talented young cast.
The Blue Balloon 4/5
A fanciful story which explores the impact a mystical blue balloon has on an entire community. The concept is a fascinating one – it explores an alternate reality in one’s state of mind but with a cast that’s almost a dozen large, there is a lot to take in and at times the action appeared rushed and slightly disorganized. Logistics aside, this is a thought provoking piece with some interesting characters and I thought the inclusion of a live soundtrack was a brilliant touch.
Last Drinks 5/5
Set in a bar, a man can’t help but strike a conversation with a woman when she walks in wearing a wedding gown. What starts off as a regular enough verbal exchange begins to head in to absurd territory when the two characters learn more about each others’ past and what has brought them to that very moment. This piece is simple in concept but is an absolute gem of a short story due to the excellent script and engaging performances from the cast.
Lucky C*nt-ry 4/5
Closing the evening is a gripping two hander which asks us to “consider this glorious country”. The cast portray multiple characters who are meant to represent your everyday ordinary people in New Zealand and explores what encompasses the Kiwi identity and our sense of belonging. This proudly local production is a riveting watch; the two performers are skilled chameleons, transitioning in to the different characters with great ease.
Overall, another enjoyable night of bite-sized theatre with some really polished performances across the board. Personally I felt the Theatre heats housed the strongest works – there were some truly exceptional productions and I hope in future some will get the opportunity to develop their works further. I can’t wait to see who makes it to the Gala Final!
Short+Sweet Theatre will be at the Herald Theatre until June 30th. Click here for tickets.
WEEK 1: Tuesday, June 18 – Saturday, June 22 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
WILDCARD: Saturday, June 22 (3pm)
WEEK 2: Tuesday, June 25 – June 29 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
GALA FINAL: Sunday June 30 (3pm & 7:30pm)
For the full festival programme, click here.