Let me start by emphasising the word amateur, not because I am about to vomit vitriol on the work but to remind everyone that the Short & Sweet Festival is designed for the average punter on the street to have a go at writing, directing or treading the boards. Do not go to this expecting polish and frou-frou. What you will get is the chance to see your friends, neighbours and rellies trying to make a fist of their designated 10 minute play, not always successfully but certainly supportively. You will see cardboard props representing everything from cars to spaceships- there is something endearingly kitsch about the whole thing.
The festival is structured into many weeks and a couple of different venues playing 10 x 10 minute plays over the 5 days of their allocated week. The plays are a mixed bag of styles and stories, directors come from all walks of life as do their cast. In each week there is bound to be a play that hangs together a little better than the others- sometimes because of the writing but mostly because the cast may have some professional or trained actors and the director, who also may have some experience, has been able to utilise their skills.
The audience also get to become part of the festival as at the end they get to vote for their two favourites and the winners eventually find their way to the finals. That is the night to make sure you have your ticket- the best of the best. However, there is something wonderfully democratic about the festival and the rawness of the heats that are worth checking out. Everyone has the same opportunity of success.
In this week kudos goes to the cast of the first play, ‘Just The Ticket’, who came to the director’s rescue when her cast pulled out 48 hours before the show opened. You wouldn’t have known- they managed well. Another play with potential was ‘Other People’, where the quality of performance stepped up a notch in ability. ‘Mother Love’ had a poignant ending, ‘Last Man on the Moon’ had some comic writing and ‘Macspin’ was another script with potential in its clever ideas.
The plays and performers overall have the subtlety of a sledgehammer when expressing their intent. But let me finish by reminding you once again of the word amateur. Forgive the festival its sins and revel in the joy that anyone can bravely live out the desire to have their moment in the spotlight and appreciate the communion of theatre.