With the overwhelming amount of options at the Fringe,
A set of actors and clever writers who manage to use the short form to produce something highly enjoyable.
The plays are all elaborations of simple ideas that take place for a single scene. There’s a married couple with the strangest ‘how they met’ story, two ambassadors dependent on an interpreter for communication, a monologue about unrequited love, two gamers who start ignoring real life, an intense tennis match between a young Russian and an older American, and a couple who discuss a eulogy minutes before the wife is buried.
Most of these are comedies, a successful genre for plays that must necessarily be uncomplicated and able to engage the audience’s attention within the first minute. They largely managed to do this, making the hour spent watching them enjoyable and full of laughter. The one play that in fact went for drama without comedy, Uncomfortable Silences, about a man discussing his desire to finally tell his friend how he has loved her for the past twenty years, seemed a touch overdramatic.
In turn this perhaps reveals the lack of complexity in the other plays. Though they touch on themes of death, love and obsession, for instance, it is always in a light-hearted and superficial way, focusing more on the humour these themes create in human relationships rather than on the themes themselves. Although this may be intrinsic to the length, such superficiality meant that after a very pleasant hour the plays became rather forgettable.
The quality of the acting is important when the actors involved are called on to frequently switch roles. On the whole it was quite strong, with special mention going to Stephen Laycock, Billy Knowledon and Rosie Edwards. Edwards managed to play convincingly, humorously, and without the exaggeration some of the other actors fell prey to, her three main parts: that of a deadpan interpreter for a made-up language reminiscent of Russian, that of an anxious and talkative 32-year old tennis player, and that of a witty woman speaking to her husband for the last time as she sits in her coffin. The diversity of these roles prove that Edwards is not merely well-suited for a certain part: she is a talented actress.
The director, Nicholas Brice, and stage manager, Tess Walker, also deserve mention for managing to create six adept scenes with few props and little time in between them.
Ultimately, then, though these short plays may not offer the complexity or depth of other productions, they allow one to see the skill of a set of actors and clever writers who manage to use the short form to produce something highly enjoyable.