Short + Sweet: Newtown Week 4

 Short and Sweet Theatre 2011 celebrated Australia Day with most plays written by Australian playwrights and showcasing all-Sydney based actors and directors.

 SHORT + SWEET THEATRE SYDNEY 2011TOP 110 – WEEK FOURVenue: Newtown Theatre Wednesday, 26 January, 2011 Short and Sweet Theatre 2011 celebrated Australia Day with most plays written by Australian playwrights and showcasing all-Sydney based actors and directors. 
1. PERFECTWritten by Therese Cloonan and Directed by Pollyanna Nowiki, this play follows Jack and Jill who have fallen downhill and are amidst a sea of love. Restricted to a confined space, a floating suitcase in fact, the two characters pondered their existence and future happiness together. Both characters were contrasting in nature and varying comic devices, from predictable “dad” jokes to a painted face on the back of a bald head – cleverly performed by the male character Jack, emphasised these differences. Roman Smoliakov created a layered and detailed portrayal of Jack; however the best feature of the play was the imaginative and brilliantly crafted set.
2. A MINI SINGULARITYThis brilliant concept and cleverly written play by Robbie Wesley examines the greater views of human life in the universe told by two of the tiniest beings in existence – Proton A and Proton B. The energy of both actors, Noni Hollonds and Daniel Csutkal, was buoyant and focused however at times you felt you needed a few science degrees to understand some of the topics. But the writing saves this just in time as the Protons nut it all out so it was easily digestible. Overall it was an enjoyable and thought provoking piece well directed by Nick Atkins. Unfortunately the actors did miss their lighting mark during the performance and a lot of the male characters performance was hidden in the dark. But it did not diminish the overall success of the play at all.
3. HAPPY ANNIVERSARYKate Buchanan gave a powerhouse performance as a woman confronting her parents with the truth about abuse experienced in her childhood. This was executed by means of a recorded message to her mobile phone that is then sent to her parents after all her revelations and anguish is unfurled. From the very beginning the piece is captivating and edgy. Nicky Davis’ writing is naturalistic and handles controversial subject matter without sweeping judgements. Director Stephen Carnell allowed Kate Buchanan to set the scene up convincingly in the beginning then kept her recorded message completely devoid of emotion. Once recorded and sent, he allowed the breathing space for the character to understand the reality of her actions before unleashing her anguish in a gut wrenching outpouring of emotion in the plays climax. Without a doubt it was my favourite piece of the evening.
4. DOUBLE DATEThe premise of this play was predictable and simplistic and greater development of the script was required. Five characters were created to set up the story for two of the characters to have a conclusion and the extra characters were either underused or unnecessary. The plotline had two couples dining together but they are mismatched and within two minutes of meeting,  two have split from their partners and run off together never to be seen again. The remaining two eventually find they have a lot in common also and fall in love. The unnecessary character was a Waiter who disrupted the scene and was irritating whenever present. The actors did work hard to make the piece workable, in particular Robert Edwards, but with such a flawed script it proved too difficult. Stronger choices by Director Lewis Scamozzi could have worked in more realistic moments into the performance but again, there just wasn’t enough in there to begin with.
5. SUCKERSWritten by Larry Woldenberg this play was a fun romp through the thriller/horror genre as two hapless couples attend a Dracula themed production and find they are locked in the theatre and the only ones there. Whilst there wasn’t much depth to the piece and the plot line was unbelievable and far fetched the genre still manages to captivate and engage its audience. Shai Alexander was intriguing as the mysterious James who seems very much like Dracula, but isn’t, and we would never have suspected the Policeman was the vampire Dracula had we not seen him put his teeth in en route to the climactic final pose. A relatively enjoyable piece, but ultimately just a bit of fun.
6. PRECONCEPTIONThis was an imaginative and clever play written by Larry Hamm that explores the art of seduction and romance with an egg and a sperm as the central characters. Directed by Deborah Mulhall the action begins with fervor as the sperm races on to be the first to get to the egg but she won’t just let him in and the tactics begin. In a well cast performance Vincent Andriano is a very convincing energetic sperm and Amelia Tranter equally entrancing as the sultry and all-powerful egg. In what could have been a one-dimensional subject, this was anything but that. After a succession of failed attempts to fertilise the egg, the sperm eventually succeeds, but only after finding a mutually satisfying route.
7. EAST TO THE OCEANThis play written by Sonal Moore centre’s on two friends about to embark on a road trip but both have different ideas on what it should be and where they should go. The differences between the characters were so noticeable that it made it difficult to understand how they became friends at all in the first place. But as the play progressed however the two characters, played amicably by Alice Keohavung and Kym Parrish, do find common ground in their conflict and manage to nut out a believable and warm resolution. 
8. F*CK PROMThis intriguing and gripping play written by Nicole E Pandolfo was not entirely easy to follow and understand however the two main characters commanded interest from the very first moment. From then on the drama was on a knife’s edge right to the finish. The heightened, mismatched pair was smeared with blood and used pistols to up the ante on each other. Both actresses were well cast and immersed themselves into their roles. Amber Robinson was captivating as the Bardot-like Gina, and Alana Wesley gave a superb performance as the edgy Garland-like Summer. Everything about this piece was strong, calculated and solid. My only disappointment was in my own inability to understand the piece.
9. THE KISSThis play written by Judy Judd-Sandwell was most disappointing. The addition of original music by composer Justin Banks only added to the disappointment. The setting was a hairdressing salon and when Allison played by Annabel Cotton reveals the identity of the man she is dating, Cassie played by Georgia Woodward realises it is her father, currently married to her mother. Her reaction is excessively negative however it is not long after this that she has gotten over it. The level of direction of the piece is brought into question as the action was lost in the songs that become annoying and intrusive to the flow of the play.
10. UP THE SOCIAL LADDERWritten and Directed by Wendy Crew, this play was a homespun and humourous tale that follows a woman’s desire to climb the upper echelon of society against the odds. Kat Stewart as Mandy Rowbottom showed vulnerability and determination in the pursuit of acceptance into a social scene that was exclusive and opposite of her natural environment and class. Good supporting cast in Simon Moy as her kind husband and Joan Rodd as Mrs. Upton-Jones the head of the social scene who reveals she came from a class exactly like Mandy Rowbottom. Though the plot was slightly predictable it was an engaging piece that created likable and interesting characters.
11. BECAUSE THE WORLD NEEDS UNICORNSIn an energetic and humourous style of storytelling we meet a Unicorn trying to get on the Ark but being refused by Noah because of the rules of entry. Writer Cerise De Gelder has drawn parallels with the case of refugees but the comparison is not accurate enough to digest. Even with a flawed plot however the piece was quite enjoyable and mainly due to the enigmatic performance by Matt Rose as the Unicorn. Ramin Ebadi as Noah took a while to find his character maintaining a low energy laid back character. The danger in such characters is their manner drags down the pace of the action and makes it dull and disinteresting. Fortunately Matt Rose’ energy picks up the slack. The extravagant and well detailed costumes and the colourful sets were a highlight of the piece.

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