OFF THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW: A selection of seven short plays by Rod Dungate and Martin Drury
DDA at The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham
Last performance: Wed 24 July, 19.00
Part of Birmingham Fest
Review: Ashok Patel, 20 July 2013
A delightful mixture of short plays, full of energy.
DDA’s OFF THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW is a collection of seven short pieces. Not an ideal format, you might think; but DDA pulls off the trick of offering a satisfying whole, in a wide range of formats, of seven short pieces. Ultimately, a very enjoyable show. It’s full of energy, very well directed (Rod Dungate) and with three excellent actors.
Inevitably you warm to some more than others. I should particularly note the touchingly romantic and emotive SEEING THE SEA THROUGH THE CRACKS (Rod Dungate), in which the two young men actors, Jack Richardson and Carl Thornley, repeatedly swap between 80s and 20s by donning and removing a coat. The same two actors offer us Martin Drury’s tough HAVE YOU EVER BEEN A VICTIM OF ANY KIND?, two none-too-bright lads, one of whom has been a victim of the Jeremy Kyle show – although not inherently funny, the two actors bring out a vulnerability in the characters which releases a gentle humour.
Linda Hargreaves, the third actor in the team, brings her invention, Beattie; Beattie (in CUSTOMER CARE) describes how she adds to her pension as a professional businesswoman in a surprising way. A very funny and sharply observed piece which could transfer effortlessly to television. Hargreaves swaps pensioner for cougar in Drury’s intriguing look at the relationship between an older woman lecturer and her (much) younger student – (NOT) THE ONE.
The three performers come together in the hilarious final piece A MIDDLELAND NIGHT’S SCHEME; DDA believes this to be a previously undiscovered Shakespeare segment; but I really wouldn’t know! The three actors play this farce-like revenge play with great vision offering us many revelations – not the least of which is the shenanigans between (Lord) Sandwell and (Lord) Dudley, men who, according to the script, ‘know not their station.’
Dungate and Drury show they can master many writing styles and forms. And the three actors create a mind-blowing set of characters with giant skill, commitment and truth – a delight to see. The sense of wholeness owes much to Natalie Hogan’s flexible settings.
Directed by: Rod Dungate
Designed by: Natalie Hogan
Sound by: Agui da Palma
TELL US HOW IT REALLY WAS: Rod Dungate
(NOT) THE ONE: Martin Drury
SEEING THE SEA THROUGH THE CRACKS: Rod Dungate
CUSTOMER CARE: Linda Hargreaves
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN A VICTIM OF ANY KIND?: Martin Drury
ON HER WAY: Martin Drury
A MIDDLELAND NIGHT’S SCHEME: Attr William Shakespeare; Ed Rod Dungate