Short + Sweet Canberra

Short + Sweet Canberra
Play Festival – Gala Final. Festival Director: Trevar Alan Chilver. Canberra Theatre Centre, Canberra ACT. August 20, 2016

Short + Sweet is exactly as it’s named: plays that are no longer than 10 minutes. That concentrates the playwright’s mind marvellously, and spurs the director to ingenious solutions. The ten plays shown in the final are the best of a gruelling process over two weeks. Plays come from Canberra, local and interstate theatre companies, and one play from the USA.

Floss (written by John Tillbrook and directed by Paul Jackson) is an amusing tale of love and lust in a dental surgery, presented in Shakespearean couplets by the versatile actors Christine D’Rozario, Daniel Greiss and Felicity Knott.

Always the Bridesmaid (E13 Productions) is one of the plays that extends the demands upon a sole actor. Jessica Gowing as Vicky takes the audience on a ride through regret and memories with wry humour and heart.

What is it now, Brain? (Lombard Shenanigans) is an amusing imagining of how a young man’s brain might hold him hostage to get what it wants while he’s on a date, including demands of ice cream, and dancing to Kylie Minogue and more.

For a completely different take on dating, Slow Dating (Footprint Theatre Inc, written by Adam Szudrich and directed by Lis Shelley) is a quietly dramatic tale starring Penelope Hunt. The play is told from an elderly woman’s perspective as she spends a night with a most charming stranger, and how she is led to a heartbreaking decision. Penelope Hunt was awarded runner up best actor.

The most riveting play of the evening was “It’s All The Rage”, written by Carl J. Sorheim and directed by Chris Baldock. Nick Steain plays the part of Alex, who’s 22, is a skateboarder, wears hoodies, and is watching a waitress. With only two props and great lighting design, the immaculate timing of each word and action brings fear, terror and remorse. Nick Steain won best actor, and the play won the People’s Choice Award and Best Production.

Brexit, written and directed by Kirsty Budding, won Best Script. The play is a well-constructed examination of an argument at a bus stop on the day of the EU Referendum. The characters are both amusing and moving, and the tenor of the argument moves rapidly.

Rachel McGrath-Kerr

Images: Nick Steain, winner of the Best Actor award, and the star of the monologue It’s All The Rage which won Best Production and People’s Choice awards with Minister for the Arts, Dr Chris Bourke, and Kirsty Budding, writer of Brexit, which took the Best Script award.

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