Monday, 16 May 2022

From comedy to heartbreak, six fine short plays

THE annual WriteFest at Progress provides a rare platform for fresh writing talent.

This year’s programme comprised six varied short plays, ranging from the comic to the heartbreaking.

The evening moved along at quite a pace, so well done to everyone who handled the quick-fire set changes.

In Adrian Tang’s poetic A Thousand Words, directed by Poppy Price, Emma Wyverne played an independent female artist, striking out against the expectations of her would-be husband, Roberto (Mark Aziz).

The poignant A3 by Neil Jarvis, directed by Mark Taylor, showed sisters Jo (Katie Moreton) and Kelly (Natasha Hall) beginning to go through their father’s effects after his funeral. Jo, obsessed by a file labelled A3, cannot stop searching for its meaning as a way of understanding a father from whom she had been estranged.

Liz Carroll’s Death by Misadventure, directed by Jo Metcalf, focused on a guest (Mark Aziz) reflecting on a death at a wedding.

What actually happened appeared to be very much under debate until a sinister revelation at the end made the picture clear, in an unexpected way. Megan Turnell Willett gave hilarious multiple performances as family members and guests at the wedding.

A reworked version of The Fisherman and his Wife by Stephanie Gunner-Lucas (directed by Megan Turnell Willett) explored ambition and fear, with strong performances from Katie Moreton as a loyal, supportive husband and Laura Barns as his demanding but increasingly fragile wife. I loved the sound effects of crashing waves.

Matthew Beswick’s Factory Children (directed by Natasha Hall) fused contemporary media with old-fashioned spookiness, as popular vlogger Kris (Esther Arzola) explored an abandoned factory, supported (or so we were led to believe) by her technicians Janice (Priya Bajaj) and Dan (Paul Gallantry).

There was a surprise ending, as there was in A Shot at Life by Neil Jarvis (directed by Anthony Travis), when long-suffering Sue (Ali Carroll) turned the tables on her sleazy husband Ray (Anthony Travis), who had hired a contract killer (Paul Gallantry) to see off his wife. Things didn’t turn out as he had planned.

WriteFest is always a real team effort by the Progress community, requiring meticulous timing and loads of mutual support.

Congratulations to all involved: the enthusiastic audience reception showed how well you pulled it off again this year.

Susan Creed

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