Saturday, September 14, 2013


The Pensive Federation

The point of difference of Rewritten from many other play festivals was billed as each of the plays starting from the same three page script and then being rewritten by four different playwrights. With all of the pieces performed by the same actors what emerged was a very tight and well rounded presentation.

Here we have two friends dealing with each other and the fallout at the end of His relationship. He in particular can’t get over Michael and She, well She knows a little bit more about Michael than She has let on before and the time has come finally tell Him what she really thinks. What results is the very friendship affirming I’m Okay, Are You? by Jo Pockett.

The second play Done operates on a very different premise. The most affecting of the pieces, it involves Him assisting Her in ending her own life. This subject is very delicately handled and superbly performed. It is a very touching representation of what love can be. Caro Dixey treads a fine line in her writing but it pays off well.

We then move into slightly cutesy territory when a couple of Animal Lib campaigners confront their politics and feelings whilst breaking into a University. The programming of Direct Action is an ideal pick me up after the previous emotional play. He likes her and She likes him and they both want to free the fluffy little animals, what could possibly go wrong? Serena Haywood clearly delights in the fun awkwardness of the characters.

The final play returns to friendship, but this time they are dealing with the fallout from then end of Her relationship. He’s just her housemate, but He values her so much more than the douche who has ruined her life. The Beginnings of Love by Sarah Pitard alludes to what might be ahead for the two of them in a sweet way that provides a satisfying conclusion to the evening.

The direction connecting these pieces together by Cat Robey is strong, but what is really satisfying about a production like this is the acting. You really get an excellent sense of how rounded the performers are when you see them in such different situations being different people. Both Neil J Byden and Laura Kim deliver complex performances and are very talented actors – it was a real pleasure to watch them.

Some of the connections between the plays felt a little bit forced – I am not convinced of the necessity of being quite so on the nose with the blue toy cat – but the lunchbox worked as a nice prop detail that echoed throughout each piece. The different covers of ‘And I love her’ echo through out the work and leave Rewritten with you long after you leave the theatre. Here’s to more intriguing concepts from The Pensive Federation!

Short Cuts 4: Metamorphosis Review

Short Cuts 4 showcases a well balanced platform of four short plays. It’s once again a tight package, that fills the Hens and Chickens with laughter and a warm evening of good quality theatre.

1. Taking Liberties – by Eliza Power
Two friends wake up somewhere they don’t know. It smells funny, they can’t get out and it all gets better when a lady out of the 1960’s informs them that they are in purgatory and await ‘down there’ unless they agree to some serious rehabilitation via reincarnation. Taking Liberties is strangely endearing though, for what it might have been. The crimes of these men are read out and it is hard to associate the violence with the frightened and desperate men meet. There is little cruelty in this world, and it is up to the preppy girl to remind us of the true consequences of why they are there.

2. Last Man in WatfordClaire Booker
In a world where men are reduced to animals, the matriarchy rules supreme and the zoo keeper is exasperated by her charge. He however is very excited at the young student coming to observe his behaviour. She has never even seen a man and is about to get involved in the kind of life changing relationship that will change her forever. Not him, you understand – he was made for this, if only the intervention had been delayed a few moments more… It’s a well executed idea but over a longer time perhaps it might have more space to be more roundly explored. For example the scenes involving the Man and his blow-up-doll ‘wife’ would have been nice to return to in light of his rejection; punishment and humiliation. Nevertheless it is well performed, directed and amusing enough to make us laugh and pause for reflection.

3. A Life Changing Experience – by Tom Jensen
A New Life. It’s an intriguing proposition, but when it doesn’t work out – what else are you expected to do but return to the shop in a rage and demand an exchange on a faulty item.  This play is a neat exploration of customer service and the way we blame others for our own troubles. It ticks the boxes of a short play, is very engaging and the ‘rebirth’ scene is very well directed. Also a pleasure are the small details of this piece that build a sense of the wider world – the relationship between the workers in the shop is an example that really works.

4. Wooky Lake – by The Grandees
It’s not easy being green (or hairy) and it’s not easy being funny. Fortunately the Grandees have little trouble being either most of the time. Here we receive another zany outing from the three comedians and their many weird and wonderful characters. Not quite as polished as their previous outing at Short Cuts 3 Wooky Lake still gave many laughs and was a fitting end to the evening. On the back of a successful Edinburgh season perhaps introducing an outside director/dramaturg to the Grandees’ team might be an idea to streamline their comedy genius into a structure more suited to a longer form performance.

Short Cuts returns for Halloween – with a creepy, horror based selection of further delights. You’ll be missing a trick if you miss this treat!