Presented by: Newcastle City Council and Livesites
Venue: The Playhouse, Newcastle (49291977)
Season: Nightly until Saturday, at 7.30pm
One of the attractions of Short + Sweet seasons is the variety of works that are in a 10-play program. And with the plays limited to a 10-minute running time, audience members know that if they don’t like one piece, something more to their taste will be along soon.
There is certainly plenty of variety in Newcastle’s first Short + Sweet play festival, with the comments of audience members at Tuesday’s theatre industry opening night showing that they enjoyed all that was on offer.
Male-female relationships are the key element of several plays and are handled in very different ways.
In Michelle Morgan’s Two of a Kind (directed by David Smith), an argument between a man and woman seated on a railway platform over the ownership of a Mars bar leads to deeper issues. As performed by Rohan Everingham and Melinda Latsos, with the occasional intrusion of Glen Waterhouse as a university-graduate railway guard, it is a delight.
Christopher Harley’s Box (director Carl Young) has a woman (Giverny Lewis) trying to find out what is in a box held by her boyfriend (Benjamin Louttit). What begins as comedy, ends up as something deeper.
Repeat (writer Brian Joyce, director Debra Hely) combines live performance (Nichole Stringer, Kel White) with television clips to show how a battered wife tries to escape from her violent husband. It is a damning picture of such control freaks.
The intrusion of death into people’s lives is shown in different ways in Karen Eastwood’s amusing but ultimately moving Something About Bindis (director Annie Bilton; actors Melinda Arnold, Val Athanassiou, Paul J.Russell) and Rosemary Cutler’s sharp-edged comedy Hold the Phone (director Robert Farmer, actors Graham Vinrace, Christina Vale).
There are more bubbling styles of comedy in Sally Davies’s The Wanted Man (director Andrew Holmes), in which a gushing young woman (Corinne Lavis) describes an assault to an increasingly frustrated policeman (Steve Wilson), and in Brenda Bryant’s old-school melodrama Unhand Me (director David Fenwick, actors Melinda Latsos, Ben Tranter, Benjamin Fraser, Jesi Jackson and Bryant).
Incoming, by Kylie Farrugia and Tracey Dwyer (director Mick Hills, actors Glen Waterhouse, Kel White, John Wood, Ashlee Woolnough), takes a funny look at immigration issues, and There are Only Survivors, by Matthew J.Schelle (director David Fenwick, actors Ian Barton, Brett Trousdale), is a warm vignette about a meeting between a World War II veteran and a younger man on Anzac Day.
One play, The Talk Down (writers Nathan Finger and Richard Clark, director Maurice Silver, actors Reuben Harris, Trent Baines), was not staged on Tuesday because an actor was delayed in Sydney by a work commitment. On paper, it is a gripping story about one man trying to persuade another not to commit suicide by jumping off a building.