The short play night is a difficult mistress... it's like having a tapas meal where the food hasn't been picked according to how it goes together, but just on what various people might like. So you can get stuff you really like, and stuff you really don't.
Such were the three rounds of the Short+Sweet festival this year. It's great to see Canberra's various theatre practicioners coming together in once place for an evening of very varied entertainments (many of whom perform in areas I'm unfamiliar with). One can argue with some of the slotting (I'm not entirely sure a play with a kid of around 10 years old should be in the second half of the evening, for instance, or that a play with a bathtub on stage should be right at the beginning since it tends to leave a lot of water to clean up early on)... but over the three rounds there were 32 separate plays, several worthy of mention. In particular, I liked:
- VD - Eliza St John had an appealingly emotionally open quality and sold this one woman story beautifully.
- Ah! - Fast and furious and with plenty of opportunities for all three actors (Elizabeth McRae, Kiki Skountzos and Riley Bell) to do some great physical acting.
- Smart Jimmy Slow Bob - A clever piece that twisted nicely and defined its characters well. Sterling work from Dan Halliday and Scott Rutar in particular
- sushiwushiwoo - Some great characterisations from Caroline Simone O'Brien and an almost-unrecognisable Megs Skillicorn (not just the wig, it was her whole physicality that was totally different from anything I've seen her do before)
- The Brett I haven't Met - Sam Hannan-Morrow is an actor I praise highly. And this is why. Even in a statically-staged piece like this, he brought sterling emotional work.
- "G" - Miranda Drake delivered something that could easily fall into pretension or overly-personal revelation, and made it funny, moving and poignant.
- How About Canons - Really just mentioning this for Joshua Knol's inspiredly ridiculous performance which added hilarity to a somewhat familiar type of piece (the "historical figure and his secret inspiration" genre)
- Seasons of a Lifetime - Again, great emotional work in this improvised piece from Reid Workman and Katherine Green. Impro is tricky in nights like this (you don't necessarily have the finely honed emotional arc you might have in a rehearsed developed piece, and exposition has to be fairly naked because you're expositing both to the audience and to your fellow actor!) but these two brought something pretty special
- The Voyeurs - I'd heard noises about Alison McGregor being something to watch, but hadn't previously seen her. This is a big mistake on my part and I'll be watching out for her again.
I may not agree precisely with who won and who didn't in the finals (results are at http://www.shortandsweet.org/shortsweet-theatre/our-festivals/canberra/gala-final-winners-2012) but I just wanted to chuck some praise out there for a fine evening of varied theatre.