Writefest 2019

A couple of years ago we went to Progress Theatre’s annual Writefest. This is an evening of seven short plays written and performed by local and up-and-coming actors. As you can imagine there is real mixed bag of plays on offer and the quality and therefore the enjoyability is also variable.

This time out the got what was to be the worst of the lot out of the way first. This was a two hander about cats (never a strong subject matter for a cat hater such as myself) and science (including the inevitable skit on Schrödinger’s cat). I suspect that if you were a cat owner some of the piece would have made sense but in the end I found it tedious and not terribly well acted. It could only get better from there.

The next piece, How to Put a Scratch in a Dinghy, was an interesting take on sexual harassment and the power of social media. It was well acted and staged but suffered from the need to keep it to 20 minutes which made it feel a bit rushed to tackle such a complex subject.

The Bumblebee was billed as a “dystopian piece” but was really just a rehash of the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but not as well done.

Closing out the first half was Perversions which was something about revenge extracted by a young girl on two people whose crimes were unclear to me. It didn’t really work for me at all. So in the first half only one of the three plays really did it for me.

The second half was much better with all three plays being stronger than those in the first half. The opening one, The Costume Department, was an interesting idea about two oldish ladies who run a drugs distribution business from the costume department of the local theatre. Again it could have done with more time to develop it further but it was well acted.

In contrast to some that went before The Cord was a straightforward piece that didn’t really try to be clever. About the relationship between mother and daughter who, it transpired, had dementia. It was nicely done and, again, well acted.

Closing out the evening was Meeting Mrs Grim, featuring the excellent lead from The Costume Department earlier as the grim reaper. Again some interesting ideas but it didn’t really work for me.

So I guess that three out of seven isn’t a bad return. It would be nice to see some of these developed further as they felt a bit constrained by both the time and staging restrictions. There were also several strong performances from three actors in particular – all females. The men this evening all seem to be a bit anonymous and almost superfluous.

No doubt we will be back again in a couple of years.

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