Short & Sweet: Newtown Week 1

We check out the first week of Short & Sweet.

The Regal History of Our WillyShort & Sweet
Newtown Theatre

Wednesday, January 6

The Prisoner and the Soldier
It is quite a heavy play to start the festival off – The Prisoner and the Soldier features the monologues of an Aboriginal man (Colin Kinchela) who fought in WW1 and well as the experiences of his grandson (Bjorn Stewart) and granddaughter (Anastasia Stewart). It provides an interesting perspective of the indigenous interpretation of war and is a well written piece by Nakkiah Lui however it’s let down by some of the performances.

Afternoon Tea with Sex and Scones
This amusing piece features a lesbian pair (Cindi Knapton and Amelia Tranter) discussing a threesome with a male friend (Robert Teicher) over tea and scones. The contrast between the high brow reputation of the Devonshire tea and the low brow discussions about sex, penises and dildos is lost on no one. It is a bit over the top and does feel like someone’s sexual fantasy coming to life, but has a comical twist at the end.

The Pink Dress
This is a great example of successful character and plot development. In the space of only ten minutes, American writer Craig McNulty manages to show the audience enough of both characters that we genuinely care about them and dare I say, want to see more. John (Lawrence Lowe) is met on the Brooklyn Bridge by his sister Ann (Rosemae Monte) who expresses concern about his increasing alcoholism. He tells a poignant story about what he saw at the World Trade Center on 9/11 and gives an insight into the personal demons he has been facing since that day. This gritty drama is helped by fabulous acting, particularly by Lowe.

All Hail
Hamish (Martin Estridge) is a British actor treading the West End boards, playing the role of the porter in Macbeth. His wife Diana (Michelle Anderson) is a pushy stage wife with ambitions of her husband making the big time. All that’s standing in his way is Duncan, who is playing Macbeth. So she comes up with an outrageous plot to have him killed. Sound familiar? This modern day re-enactment is well acted and entertaining but admittedly somewhat predictable when you work out the plot similarities.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward
Another actor-focussed drama – Clive (Andy Leonard) and Santos (Charles Billeh) are putting on their makeup as they prepare to take the stage. Santos is a fresh faced rooky who seems to know as little about life as he does about applying makeup. Clive is a seasoned professional, an over-the-top thesbian played very ably by Leonard. Writer Pat Brennan has created more of a character based piece but it’s very entertaining and has quite a humorous twist at the end.

This play centres around a large bed in the centre of the stage. Clive’s (Roberto Quintarelli) polygamous affairs are being investigated by a police officer (Paul Ayre), an investigative journalist (Justine Kacir) and one of his wives, a magistrate, ( Libby Daniewska) all of whom seem to be unable to resist the urge to jump into bed together. It is a fairly interesting idea although lacks purpose and a sense of completion.

A Match Made in Heaven
A very topical drama considering the times we live in. An American soldier (Rich Carwin) in a warzone realises he has been killed and is in some sort of heaven waiting room. The suicide bomber is none other than the intriguing woman (Suz Mawer) he saw in the marketplace. It’s a not so classic love story with an idealistic ending. Well acted and an interesting concept by Frank Davidson.

The Last Biscuit
We all wonder what goes on inside our partners’ heads and this play gives us some insight. Carol (Brooke Davidson and Lucinda Gordon) and Robert (Danny Rey-Conde and Nathaniel Links) are sitting on the couch enjoying some television but their thoughts are being projected out loud for the audience. Although not a word is uttered by the actors on stage, it’s a very clever analysis of the difference between men and women and their contrasting communication styles.

Aerobic blues
Julian’s (Lynden Jones) boyfriend Martin is going on a trip but before he can head to the airport to give him his ticket, he gets a knock on his door. Unbeknownst to him, Martin also has a girlfriend, Marlene (Samantha Hickey) and she’s arrived to find out about this mysterious ‘Jules’ in her boyfriend’s life. There are some amusing anecdotes and although the concept is interesting, the overall performance is a bit elementary.

The Regal History of Our Willy
Charity (Dorothy Hughes) is taking her fiancé Jackson to visit her Grandmother, of the Dickson-Coxes family. Jackson (Mark Humphrance) is particularly uncomfortable with all these double entendre references to the male genitalia but Grandma O (Aileen Beale) and her Reverend friend (Adam Boys) are oblivious to his pain.  If you enjoyed the British comedy Are You Being Served, then you will surely appreciate this play. There are double entendres aplenty, although it’s more slap in your face rather than subtle hint.

Until January 9.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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