DramaLondonReview

Five New Short Plays: The British Theatre Challenge 2024 – Brockley Jack Studio, London

Reviewer: James Robertson

Writers: Emily Carmichael, Scott Gibson, Lee Brodie, Steve Eddison and Evonne Fields-Gould

Director: John Mitton

Presented at the Jack Studio Theatre in Brockley, the Sky Blue Theatre Company showcases its five shortlisted plays for the British Theatre Challenge’s 2024 edition. The five plays on display offer a diverse range of stories, attempting to capture a wide variety of the human experience.

Emily Carmichael’s Each Fallen Robin kicks off the showcase with a two-hander starring Marlon Kameka and Tracy Garcia. Set within a warehouse, this is a casual slice of realism that sees two workmates become closer over the course of the play, revealing their faults and biases. Although it is well-acted, the script lacks much direction or stakes, coming to an end without much in the way of a resolution.

Next is The Injured Party by Scott Gibson, set within the confines of a car stuck in traffic. Actors David Kerr, Rosalind Adler, Michael Tuffnell and Darrie Gardner play respective older couples entwined in a comical web of relationships that come to ahead on their way to dinner. Although the concept is solid, the execution of this short play is slow and lethargic when it begs to be riotous and hilarious.

Can There Be Justice For TJ is the first piece that contains a substantial political message, as Evonne Fields-Gould’s play details a mother’s reaction to her son’s death at the hands of the American police force. A direct response to unfortunate killings of Black men like George Floyd, this piece contains a strong emotional core that is carried successfully by Samantha Russell who plays the mother reflecting on her son’s passing.

Coming back after the interval, Steve Eddison’s You Butterfly is perhaps the most successful play in this collection, as it explores the mental effects of dementia on an old woman, played by Mary Tillet. As she struggles to discern between her family members and the staff of a nursing home, the audience is directly placed into her mindset: not a small feat to achieve.

Lastly is Lee Brodie’s The Magic in Christopher, a Christmas-time, family-themed play. Following a young boy named Christopher, played by Hannah Tudge, he is given a collection of magic Christmas perishables which allow him to wish for anything he wants. He soon learns the true meaning of Christmas through his decisions. A wonderful set-up for a children’s theatre show, this piece has a lot of heartfelt moments, but would be better suited to the field of pantomime.

All in all, the five plays which make up this year’s British Theatre Challenge are a mixed bag, but with potential to be found in all of them.

Runs until 20 April 2024

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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