Writers: Diane Whitley, Lisa Holdsworth, Peter Kerry, Paul Coats, Trevor Suthers, Paul Mason &James Quinn
Directors: Alice Bartlett, Rebecca Taylor, Chris Honer, Jack Lord, Sue Jenkins, James Quinn
Reviewer: Charlotte Broadbent
JB Shorts are back with six new 15minute pieces from TV writers and local directors 15minutes proves to be the perfect amount of time to tell a short story or maybe show a glimpse of work from a bigger project (somescripts from previous years have been re-worked into full length plays) but it also means that the audience is getting a decent amount of bang for their buck. The cellar of the Joshua Brooks pub is an intimate and informal space which is ideal for this collection of experimental scripts, which hopefully allows the writers to venture into new territory and deliver something beyond their usual remit. This has resulted in an eclectic variety of texts, from domestic drama to absurd religious comedy.
Diane Whitley’s The Intruder has the unenviable position of first on the bill, and sadly in this instance means it was soon forgotten in favour of other pieces. Joan Kempson and Melissa Sinden pair well as sisters who are caught between a difficult past and a doomed future. Even with some very sincere performances the script attempts to cover a lot of emotional ground in 15minutes which is, perhaps, overambitious.
A Different Time is an incredibly detailed but well paced exchange between three old friends, and writer Lisa Holdsworth has utilised every second of the allotted time to gain maximum humour and empathy. The first half is the reunion between old friends Linda (Jill Myers) and Amanda (Joyce Branagh) who are eagerly anticipating the arrival of the wild and notorious Samantha (Tigga Goulding). The exchange between Linda and Amanda is keenly focused which ensures a snappy rally of pithy passive aggressive dialogue. When Samantha does enter she is the firecracker we’ve been promised, though Tigga Goulding is able to match her eccentricities with a real sincerity.
The first half ends on a high note with Peter Kerry’s Humble a slapstick and almost cartoonish comedy about the mind numbing frustrations of office life. Will Travis plays the ‘business speak’, corporate bore stereotype Jeremy with more than a passing resemblance to a certain ex Top Gear presenter (it would seem that the clue is in the name!) which heightens the absurdity and surreal humour. Some dramatic sound effects were tongue in cheek and a lot of breaking of the fourth wall all add to this outrageous and well acted farce.
The second half begins with some Python-esque religious satire from Paul Coates in his piece False Profit, in which Jesus has to find a way to deal with some professional jealousy over the new kid on the block, Samuel. A lot of contemporary references against this ancient and religious setting make for some quirky humour and Thomas Vernal as the neurotic and desperate Jesus is a joy.
Trevor Suthers has a difficult slot in the line up. In between two strong comic pieces his short Build a Bonfire examines morality and the objectivity of art. It’s a interesting play that certainly builds as it goes along and leaves the audience with enough questions to make them curious for more, though some slow pacing at the beginning and the unfortunate position in the proceedings means that it takes a little time to get going, and when you only have a short amount of time to telell the story every second counts.
Party Animals is arguably the cherry on the cake and is well positioned as the final piece guaranteeing the audience leaves wiping away tears of laughter as they go. Paul Mason and James Quinn’s political comedy about the appointment of Jeremy Corbyn, and the impact it has on some of the core party members is a flawless execution of satire and wit. Sally Carman dominates the stage as the acid tongued and politically incorrect Fedora. Her energy is boundless and she covers a myriad of emotions to maximise every line and earn every available laugh. A real highlight.
Overall the standard this year has been incredibly high with much more good than bad in the mix. A smorgasbord of local talent and a fun night of new writing, most of which is very funny.
Runs until 16th April | Image:Brianne Edge