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Verdict: Short and funny theatrical gems
London - Canal Café Theatre - November 02
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays: 17-19 Oct, 24-25 Oct, 31 Oct - 2 Nov 02
Here are 4 short and funny theatrical gems, packed elegantly into a bite-sized 60 minutes of delightful entertainment.
David Ives's 'Sure Thing' features clumsy resourceful Bill (Nick Cawdron) trying to pick up elegant intellectual Betty (Katy Bartrop). We've all been in one of these roles, but this clever script improves on reality by letting both parties try, try and try again with their words, till they get what they both want (which fortunately turns out to be the same thing). Bartrop and Cawdron have acted this play before, and perform it seamlessly: it's a magnificent piece of writing, lyrically acted - a mesmeric delight. Director Emma Taylor.
In Carol Real's 'The Battle of Bull Run Always Makes Me Cry', Donna (Emma
Taylor) and Patrick (Nick Cawdron) re-enact their first date for the benefit of Donna's friends Linda (Sarah Sylvester) and Amy (Katy Bartrop). Emma Taylor brings a touching and delicate quality to the role of uncertain Donna. Nick Cawdron gives big strong Patrick, a kindly giant, a gentleness which is warmly endearing. Sarah Sylvester and Katie Bartrop as the two mates hot for the hottest gossip are simply wonderful. The construction of the script allows them to peer and giggle at the action replay of the date, which cleverly makes it all the more 'real'. It's a lovely little play, unusual, and subtly acted. Directors Nick Cawdron and Emma Taylor.
DMV Tyrant by Christopher Durang showcases in 5 minutes the conflict between human and bureaucracy that took Franz Kafka several hundred inpenetrable pages in The Trial. Here it's Sarah Sylvester's Window Seven Attendant versus Tom Bodell's member of the public, James Agnes. He's trying to get his driving licence, she's trying to prevent him. He's passed his test, there's been a clerical error, she's lost him on the computer. He's getting on the boil, she's prodding him to explosion. Bodell develops Agnes's character and anger convincingly. Sylvester, with bulging eyes in hornrimmed glasses, is a magnificent tyrant. Director Emma Taylor.
Desire, Desire, Desire by Christopher Durang, is to Tenessee Williams what Shakespeare in Love is to the Bard, but in 15 minutes. It has references to as many plays by Williams and a legion of others as you can count. But it works perfectly on its own merits, and is a lively and entertaining piece of theatre without a shred of intellectual pretention. Blanche Dubois (Emma Taylor) is having a slob-like evening at home with Stanley (Nick Cawdron), filled with unfulfilled sexual desire till the arrival of the Census Man (Scott Parker). Who lives there? Maggie 1 (Sarah Sylvester) thinks she does, so does Maggie 2 (Katy Bartrop). They're waiting for Stella (Katy Bartrop) to come home, 6 years after she left, and she does, pregnant. Cora (Sarah Sylvester) guzzles whisky in the background as the the Census Man throws off his hat and glasses to become an aspirant TV programme-maker, shooting Blanche's life. Big Daddy (Tom Bodell) enters to prod the action with his cigar.
Desire, Desire, Desire features the two raunchiest nightdress-wearers of the evening: Sarah Sylvester has that quality of moody sexiness that makes strong (and weak) men wilt, and she delivers it here at full strength, in two fine characteristations. Katy Bartrop presents two different women, one straining with languid, fulfilled pregnancy; the other hot (very hot) for immediate and far-from-immaculate conception. Nick Cawdron brings Stanley, a complex character, to startling life - it's a strong piece of acting which underscores the whole piece. Scott Parker is very funny as the Census Man overwhelmed by Blanche's importuning, a subtle piece of counterpoint to the wordier characters which spices the play; and his TV Producer is funny and convincing.
There is a central character to this piece, around whom it revolves - Blanche Dubois. Possibly Tennessee Williams's most loved and remembered creation, author Durang here puts Blanche where she'd always choose to be: centre stage (almost) and centre of attention (always). Emma Taylor - playing her as an alcoholic slapper smeared in lipstick, in see-through full-length green summer frock redolent of hot rainy twentieth-century Delta nights - gives a performance which can only accurately be described as magnificent. From her first squeal of protest at Stanley's lack of - to put it mildly - finesse, to her last croakings of desire, Emma Taylor is a definitive Blanche. She's funny, sexy, powerful, and moving. There's a magnetism she creates for Blanche which glues this fine piece of excellent storytelling and excellent ensemble acting together, and rivets our attention.
Desire, Desire, Desire: credits: Blanche - Emma Taylor. Stanley - Nick Cawdron. Young Man - Scott Parker. Maggie 1 and Cora - Sarah Sylvester. Maggie 2 and Stella - Katy Bartrop. Big Daddy - Tom Bodell. Director - Emma Taylor, with additional direction by Nick Cawdron and Sarah Sylvester.
AMERICAN SHORTS: overall credits: As listed separately above and: Producer - Emma Taylor. Staff: Louis Brownhill and Rebecca. Outstanding lighting of the four plays, and sound, from Technical Manager Jacob Wiltshire.
related topic - our review of American Trio
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