Short and Sweet: Newtown Week 1’s Suzi Mackay reviews the first round of Short and Sweet performances for 2011.

 Short and Sweet – Week OneNewtown Theatre Wednesday, 12th January, 2011  
Summer DisplayI suppose the reviews for a festival such as Short and Sweet should run the same way as the performances – short, sharp…and sweet. So here goes. With my patented five heart system. ? In chronological order on the night: 1. Commedia Della Scorreggia is a sharp physical piece with all the traditional Commedia Dell Arte traditions intact. It was clever, funny (with just the right amount of base humour) with each character using their physicality beautifully. The actors’ voices were excellent and the group was obviously well trained and rehearsed. ? ? ? ? 1/2 2. Haircut is an earnest piece about the particular and peculiar relationship between a woman and her hairdresser. Emma comes in to get her hair cut and the hairdresser, Michelle, manages to draw out her tales of love, betrayal and heartbreak. The piece is competently written and performed albeit a little literal but with a nice theme and premise. ? ? ?   3. Nothing To Be Done is a classic piece of playbuilding, using elements of physical theatre and absurdist styles. Based around a man who just simply cannot sleep it explores the madness that ensues. However, the issue with the piece is the lack of exploration. It never really gets away from the physical humour enough to explore a narrative. ? ? 1/2 4. Pizza With Everything is another slice of life piece that proves there is no such thing as a free lunch. A woman delivers a pizza, for free, in order to get her affair out in the open. It is witty and sharp and Zara Jesdinsky’s dry delivery as the woman delivering the pizza and the news of the affair, stood out and suited the style to a tee. ? ? ? 1/2 5. The Summer Display (pictured) was the standout of the evening. A woman plants her window box and repairs her life as her husband desperately searches for the neighbours’ dog that has gone missing. The mild mannered English lady covers her seeds and a possibly dastardly deed. The performances were subtle, poignant and very funny. ? ? ? ? ?
 6. The Salt Maiden uses myth and fantasy to weave a story of mermaids and the men who fall across their path as well as the tyranny of age and trying to be something other than you are. A competently acted piece that had the feeling that it should be a much longer story and perhaps the short nature of the festival isn’t the perfect fit for its complexities. ? ? ?  7. Quarantine is short, funny and beautifully comedic. Very well acted, it tells the story of an Indian son traveling back to Australia with his mother who doesn’t quite understand the customs of the country. It is beautifully timed with the only critisism being it is one of the rare pieces in the festival that may have been improved by being shorter. Even so, it is a great sharp comedy that tells much about society in one little short burst. ? ? ? ?  8. TOO*SH* is a theatre of image piece about hiding what’s inside outside. For it to be a completely successful the movement narrative needed to be a little clearer and while the images were strong and sound they didn’t move far enough away from just that – interesting images and costume. ? ? 1/2 9. New Years Eve is a sitcom styled short about a boy trying to impress a girl, getting his friend in trouble on the way and finding his plan just might work when the girl ends up in trouble as well. It is sharp and funny but patchy in its energy. And could do with a tighter edit. ? ? ?  10. The Spy Who Loved Meals is a Pythonesque piece using 007 characters and 00 entendres. A chance encounter with an arch nemesis unmasks 005, a comparison of notes and Money Penny’s bored ire. A great idea and executed quite well. Perhaps the actors needed to commit to the levels of those Pythons in order to truly pull it off, but it was, nonetheless, a funny and charming way to end the show. ? ? ? 1/2

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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