Writefest 2017

According to the blurb Progress Theatre’s Writefest is in its 12th year but previous incarnations have passed us by. The idea is that six local authors write a short (c. 20 minutes) play and all are shown in one evening . It’s an interesting idea and one that means that if you don’t like one of the plays there is bound to be another along in a minute that you do like. We went to see if that was true last Thursday.

The six plays were very different, even if there were themes that were similar. For example political unrest, people who are different than us and Brexit all made their way into the offerings in one way or another. The sets were minimal just a chair or a table in order to allow the stage to be set quickly between each one and some of the actors were shared too.

In terms of the plays themselves it was a real mixed bag. The evening started strongly with “A Little Nibble” which told the story of a good Samaritan who was brought home by the person she helped only to discover that they were a zombie and wanted to eat her. Next up was “Pen” which while the idea was sound – that memories stored in the cloud are lost in the event of a disaster and paper is forever – but, for me, this one didn’t really work and wasn’t a very strong story.

The first half ended with “The Last Bus” which I think was probably my favourite of the evening. This showed a couple who were waiting to catch the last bus out of Pergatory which was being shut down. Nicely acted and a good idea.

The second half started with “If it be now” which was my least favourite of the lot mainly because it was a bit of a mess. What went on, I think, was that a couple were planning to kill someone who seemed to be stalking them after the wife of the couple had an affair with him a few year previously. It could also have been that the wife was setting up the husband but this wasn’t clear. It also came to an abrupt end and nobody seemed quite sure if it had ended or not.

Next up was “Buried” about a man struggling with his sexuality and hiding the fact that he really wanted to be a woman despite getting married and having children. This was done by having his inner voice played by another actor trying to guide him to do what he wanted rather than what society demanded. I would hope that this is an outdated concept but maybe it’s not.

And finally “Fairy Tails”- one that wasn’t set in the here and now as it was a fantasy of three, well I’m not sure what they were, who snapped the tails of fairies to make calls and ended up killing one of them. It was actually better than I have made it sound.

It was an interesting evening and there were some interesting ideas there but I am not sure that 20 minutes is enough time to give the subjects that some tried to cover justice. Also some left just a little too much to the imagination (or maybe I just suffer from a lack of it?).

The best bit in the whole evening though was when an audience member behind us, in a voice that they clearly thought was a whisper but really wasn’t, said to their partner “NICE COFFEE”. I spent several minutes following that suppressing a giggle!