Saturday, 9 August 2014

Short and Sweet, Wildcards, Courtyard Studio

The wildcards is always the most un-even of the Short and Sweet groupings - but in its un-evenness, there's sometimes a few unpolished gems (and occasionally something shiny and perfect). This time, it's, alas, more un-even than most, but there's three ten minute pieces deserving of mention.

First, "The Literary Monogomist" is a witty, well-staged piece of cross cultural referencing, well held together by leads Jess Waterhouse and Luke Middlebrook. In the wide strokes of making fun of people overly-attatched to a single literary fetish whether it be Jane Austen, Star Trek or the Bible, it's a fun idea (although there's never quite a full-hearted engagement with the third one - which is a pity, there's always room for broad biblical reinterpretation) - in the details, I'm not entirely sure having most of literature teaming up to save the soul of one bored check-out-chick is necessarily the most deep (why her rather than anybody else, I wonder-  it seems like the usual condescension towards chicklit). Still, it amuses, and mostly moves at a decent pace (though I think the Trek interludes drag a little - in particular, one joke about Shatner's other career higlights played to absolute silence, and the direction is pretty perfunctory). It's probably about three rehearsals and a rewrite away from true excellence.

"TV" is basically an exercise in allowing the seven performers from Child Players to play around across genres - there is a brief gesture at a deeper message, but mostly it's about showing off the talents of the ensemble. And this is a skilled ensemble who switch modes, characters and styles instantaneously. If young performers can play on this level it's indicative that there's a bright future for ACT Drama.

"The Liberal Rainbow" is a superior piece of verbatim theatre, working around issues regarding gay marriage and political responses to it - Sue Webeck directs a strongly visual and aural kaleidoscope by selecting carefully through the speeches and framing them amusingly, musically and soulfully.

As for the remainder - there's some good ideas, some good performances and even occasional good pieces of writing, but they don't quite add up to satisfactory wholes in various ways - some can't sustain the full length, some are overly interested in playing towards a twist that is overly obvious early on - there are several worthy themes that aren't rounded out into full pieces (ten minutes is really too long to just repeat the one idea without variation).

So this is probably the weakest of the servings, but with three interesting titbits.

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