Sunday, 22 September 2019

Short plays festival is a great showcase for new writing

Short plays festival is a great showcase for new writing

13th Annual WriteFest | Progress Theatre, Reading | Thursday, October 11

SHOWCASES of brand new writing are a rare offering, so this festival of short plays at Progress has generated a lot of excitement.

Pieces have been selected with variety in mind, so there is something here for every taste.

Dan Clarke’s The Midnight Snack offers a punning laugh-out-loud pastiche of a gumshoe story, with a crazed vegan attempting to corner the fast food market.

Next up, Paul Houghton’s beautifully structured Four Meals covers the ups and downs of life for two couples via repeated visits to their favourite restaurant.

Emily Goode’s poignant monologue Weight of Words, ably delivered by Emma Sterry, uses the device of a confessional for Martha to let us into her loveless marriage and her anxiety about being too talkative.

The experimental Ekho by Erica Evans uses just a few lines to suggest how the same dialogue can take on different meanings in different scenarios, from sinister to slapstick.

Anything I Can Do by Bethan Perkins is a clever look at starting a family in a future context where risk must be minimised and the rights of the child are paramount.

You’re Nicked by Jenny Williams shows a shrewd wife duping a foolish husband and a pair of gullible cops.

Finally, John R Goodman’s delightful and poetic Dog on a Beach has the cast of three transformed into very convincing canines, running and playing on the sands while discussing their humans and the meaning of life.

WriteFest puts writers, directors, stage managers and the production team in the spotlight. But of course it was the actors who put heart and soul into bringing the seven plays to life so brilliantly.

There were too many good performances to mention them all, but well done to all the casts, especially the hard-working Progress members who took on more than one role in more than one play.

Well done, also, to producer Emily Goode for orchestrating such a quickfire and complex programme of theatre.

Compere Stuart McCubbin kept the audience entertained through the numerous set changes, when it was all hands on deck to shift the furniture.

This was a fresh, engrossing and very enjoyable evening, the perfect platform for highlighting local theatrical talent.

Until Saturday (October 13).

Susan Creed

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