Sunday, September 2, 2012

Short & Sweet Canberra Final

I'm a fan of the whole notion of Short & Sweet (and Canberra Rep's version, the 'Logues); I'd hoped to get to both heats as well as the final, but as ever, other commitments conspired against me. So I was quite lucky to get in at the last minute to see the preview of the final yesterday at the Courtyard.

For the sake of any novices stumbling across this, I should explain that Short & Sweet is a competition/festival for short plays; in fact anything longer than 10 minutes is disqualified.  This is fantastic for people like me with the attention span of a kitten on crack; it also gives writers an opportunity to experiment, and it means that - like short stories - the scripts have to pack quite a punch to succeed.

In the spirit of the thing, I'll keep my comments short (sweet, I won't guarantee):

Trinculo's Bathtub 1 :  This was well-executed, but I'm not fond of grotesquerie, and, post-heyday, it's difficult for absurdist theatre not to come across as merely attention-seeking. So, not for me.

The Voyeurs:  I assume the aim of the writer was to pitch this script somewhere between the styles of Wilde and Shaw, and if so it rang pretty true. Alison MGregor did it justice.

Ah! :  This was popular with many in the audience; I wasn't quite sold.  Good performances (especially from Riley Bell) but just a bit noisy and messy for me. Yes, that may have been the point, as we're inside the head of an agoraphobe.

Paradise :  This was an invited entry, a slightly longer version won the 'Logues earlier this year (though not on my vote). I liked it much more this time; the shortened script was much sharper and the performances were improved as well.

Spit for Tat : This was pretty funny, if you like the sight gag of people spitting on each other (and who doesn't?!) but really it was an average script lifted by really lovely performances by Caroline Simone O'Brien and Scott Rutar.

The Weather Outside is Frightful :  I wasn't much impressed by this, but on reflection I think a reasonable script was probably let down by some below-par acting.

Smart Jimmy, Slow Bob : My favourite (and as it turned out, the judges', too). An actual start-to-finish story, with some nice twists and some very funny moments; plus tight direction and excellent performances, including hands-down the best sexual chemistry of the collection.

The Smell of Rain :  Entertaining, and a lovely, detailed performance from Kristin Louise, but a bit too cute and whimsical for me; I was expecting a bit of a kick in the ending that didn't arrive.

V.D. : stands for Valentine's Day - and the other.  A very funny script, delivered beautifully by Eliza St John, but old old old subject matter.  What the hell,  I still liked it a lot.

SushiWushiWoo:  And more of the same old Sex in the City subject matter, and a dodgy wig, but another clever treatment, and excellent performances from Megs Skillicorn and Caroline Simone O'Brien (again).

A Short History of the Weather :  Again, a bit of a cutesy script, but some of the funniest lines of the final, and very well-delivered by Ryan Pemberton and Kristin Louise.

I was pleased to see Smart Jimmy Slow Bob take home the trophy, and Caroline Simone O'Brien and Scott Rutar were worthy winners in the best actor category.  Full details of all the winners can be found here.

If you've been to Short and Sweet before, you probably already looking forward to next year's; if you haven't, you should pencil it in to your calendar - it really does offer something for everyone. And it works out at about $2.30 per play; a bargain in anyone's book!

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