Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham
Runs till Sun 29 April, one interval
Review: Alexander Ray 27 04 12

An easy-going evening with some bright new talent
If people want to develop their playwrighting skills then they have to see their plays in performance in front of audiences. This may seem axiomatic; sadly, though, it’s easier said than done. This is even more true in an age we seem to live in where theatres and theatre companies, led by funding agencies, are allowing ‘tick box’ approaches to drive artistic strategy.

Big Script is an organisation in Birmingham which aims to develop theatre writing. So they’ve taken producing into their own hands and funded a handful of performances to showcase members’ work. The result is Love! Sex! Confusion! a series of short plays exploring this theme.

The format, under deft guidance from director Graeme Braidwood, works extremely well; the performance has an easy going rhythm, with the frequent change of play keeping interest levels high.

The plays work best when they tell a story and we sense a strong life that sits behind the characters. Also welcome are plays that offer a change of style. Least successful are the plays in which characters tell us what they’re thinking, or where writers haven’t (yet?) achieved a mastery over their form.

There are some 13 short plays in this collection.

UNDERGROUND ATTRACTION (Eileen Clews) is strong in the first half. A young man is attracted to a young woman he sees in a tube train. Braidwood has the stage directions read as an accompaniment to the action – ‘The police sergeant cast her eyes around the carriage’ . . . Wonderfully understated comedic performances lift the play; it’s a delight. LOVE, HONOUR AND OBEY (Liz John) is a strong and painful opening to the second half. NEXT DOOR (Gerald Kells) is a touching comic tryst between two older people whose own partners are actively involved in a bit of partner-swapping. Our two characters would prefer a cup of tea and listening to The Archers. The whole has a strong finish in another non-realistic piece MUCH ADO (Martin Drury) which gives us almost the only acknowledgement in the evening that love, sex and confusion can exist between partners other than a male and female pair.

Bad Date Robert Warrington
First Love: Andrew McCoy
One Bite: Cleo Whittingham
Second Date: Sandra Wathall
I Never Wanted You: Nigel Pocknell
Underground Attraction: Eileen Clews
Paradise Lost: Nigel Pocknell
Love, Honour and Obey: Liz John
Post-Mortem: Eileen Clews
Penny’s Secret: John Gray
Decision Time: Gerald Kells
Nest Door: Gerald Kells
Much Ado: Martin Drury

Director: Graeme Braidwood
Actors: Theresa Collins, Ciaran Duce, James Parsons, Marilii Saar, Alan Wales, Emily Summers

2012-04-28 10:18:14

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