Short+Sweet 2016: Theatre Season 2

short-sweet-bannerThe second heat of Short+Sweet Theatre kicked off this week and once again, the audience were treated to an eclectic lineup of short stories. I found this subsequent selection of works to be more of a mixed bag with the stronger pieces in the second half.

Culture Clash was my favorite from the first half. A comical, alternative spin on the classic Bard tale of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet, this piece was easily enjoyable with a good blend of comedy, charm and well-executed choreography.  With a little polishing I think there is potential for this work to be made in to a full-length play.

The quirky synopsis for We Mean You No Harm Yet peaks your interest immediately and is a taster for the silliness that is to come. The two performers portray a pair of aliens to comedic effect and though the piece gets a bit too self-indulgent near the end it manages to just about toe the line and pull off weird in a good way.

Meanwhile Keep Calm and Carry the Crumb which centers around an insect version of a ‘girls night out’ party is certainly an unusual idea for a narrative yet it works a treat. The plot had great entertainment value and was excellently depicted by the cast, ending the evening on a high.

Another highlight for me was two-hander The Lady and The Tyger. Like a fly in the wall, we watch as a Kiwi backpacker and Parisian meet and make a connection in the most unlikely way. The two performers had great onstage chemistry; you couldn’t help but be drawn in to their conversation. The dialogue was engaging, subtly thought-provoking and I thought was crafted to suit the ten-minute time frame very effectively.

Alexander the Great was another play I felt made excellent use of the ten-minute format. More dialogue-heavy than action-heavy, the strength of this piece lies in the cleverly written narrative which had some adeptly placed and timed humor seamlessly infused in to the script. The cast complemented each other well, delivering their lines superbly.

Overall this week’s offering, like last week, had a good variety to suit any palette. This big little festival is definitely perfect for someone who likes the idea of consuming theatre like they would a buffet – having a little taste here and there, sampling a little bit of everything.

Season 2 is on for another two nights at TAPAC. For more details and the full lineup, head on over to shortandsweet.org.nz.

 

 

 

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Short+Sweet 2016: Theatre Season 1

short-sweet-bannerShort+Sweet, Auckland’s bite-sized arts festival is back for another year! It boasts a selection of both new and emerging talent as well as returning theatre-makers who just want to have another go.

The Season 1 lineup featured a strong selection of works but it was the two single handers that stole the show for me. Slow Dating was thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish; Julie Collis’ wonderfully comic and often exaggerated delivery was engaging as it was entertaining. Similarly, 93% was an excellently crafted one-man-piece with the energy of an ensemble cast. Hamish Annan thoroughly impressed with his performance, particularly the physicality in which he embodied the multiple characters he portrayed.

Being a musical fan, I was delighted there were two on the bill. Beyond Four Walls‘ song cycle format was a great concept though the overall narrative didn’t quite translate as clearly as perhaps intended. Where the piece did excel was in the music; there were some solid vocal performances by the cast and I also enjoyed the comedy that was present in the lyrics. Theatre of Love’s Match – The Beginning on the other hand had the opposite impact. While I thought the plot was absolutely brilliant and lyrically sound, the vocals were a bit rough in parts.

Other highlights for me were incidentally the two more low-key pieces of the program. Part lecture, part phone conversation, March of Progress was a clever, quite literal illustration of someone trying to juggle both his work and personal life. Thoughtfully written and performed, the narrative had a good measure of both heart and humor. Dragonflies was another solid offering with a very slice-of-life premise that had an intriguing element to it. The two actors gave subtle yet nuanced performances and though the ending may not have come to a surprise to everyone, I feel the build up to it was superbly executed and delivered with just the right amount of tension to keep the audience guessing.

There is definitely a skill to creating and presenting ten-minute-plays and the Short+Sweet Festival is the perfect opportunity to see this in action. If you want to have a taste of the New Zealand performing arts talent and like the idea of a smorgasbord of short stories, this is the ticket.

Season 1 is on for another two nights at TAPAC before Season 2 kicks off the following week. For more details and the full lineup, head on over to shortandsweet.org.nz.