Fools and their stories were the theme of this latest set of short plays, dramatic monologues and glorified sketches presented in rehearsed readings by the Village Pub Theatre team, under director Caitlin Skinner. And they certainly came in many forms.
Unusually, for Village Pub Theatre, both sets of three performances were on this occasion shadowed by Pab Roberts, whose “comic poetry” is best defined by its increasingly bizarre imagery, the comic potency of rhyme, and an unnerving man-child innocence you can’t entirely believe in.
Byline, by Helen Shutt, focused on two journalists who realise they’ve both been tricked into writing their newspaper’s annual April Fool’s Day story. Sadly, while clearly wanting to say something about the changing world of journalism, Shutt’s piece felt rather flat, given character chiefly through the work of performers Ben Clifford and Ben Winger.
James Ley’s We Can Only Apologise, meantime, came across as trying slightly too hard, with extremely hung-over Lucy (Sarah MacGillivray) and Barry (Winger again) not quite reaching the over-the-top insults some might expect between a gay man and close female colleague. That said, the scene’s final twist did have punch, which was perhaps the point.
Sophie Good’s two-hander Lucky Day, in contrast, was performed with minimum fuss. Essentially the tale of Lara (Liz Strange) trying to fool an old woman (MacGillivray) out of money, it was an interesting study in the changing balance of power and confidence between the two characters.
Belle Jones’s Suffering Fools, meantime, was more concerned with initially fooling the audience with her tale of an abused young woman who finds unexpected salvation while sheltering from the rain with an old lady of the streets. Short and sweet, this was a concise work which neither outstayed its welcome nor felt too short.
Interestingly, Belle Jones then turned performer with Coffin Talkby Grace Cleary, a widow’s monologue over the coffin of her much loved – though not particularly liked – husband Sammy. In one sense, this simply felt like the result of a writing exercise, but there was sufficient depth and character in this particular “merry widow” to be nobody’s fool.
Last, but by no means least, the Two Bens returned in Louise E Knowles highly amusing GFN, a sketch which really benefited from the performers’natural double-act: Winger and Clifford played, respectively, “experienced” gay fox Steve, and freshly-Out gay fox Kenneth. Knowles’script proved an amusing and wry exploration of certain aspects of human relationships – plus giving an absolute corker of a Basil Brush-inspired joke.
Unusually, for Village Pub Theatre, both sets of three performances were on this occasion shadowed by Pab Roberts, whose “comic poetry” is best defined by its increasingly bizarre imagery, the comic potency of rhyme, and an unnerving man-child innocence you can’t entirely believe in. Enjoyable, but – not least because he was reciting from memory, rather than reading from a script – he nevertheless felt somewhat out of place.