A nine-course feast of theatre

"I Was Fine Until You Came In The Room" by Rich Orloff. Image: Jim Crew.

If the opening round of the Short+Sweet theatre festival/competition is any indication, it promises to be a season filled with delicious concoctions and unusual flavours. Rita Bratovich got a first taste of the offerings when the festival kicked off on Thursday. 

There were a lot of enthusiastic supporters in the audience in the Tom Mann Theatre on Thursday night, and they were duly rewarded. The standard of writing was high, and the breadth of ideas was intriguing. Comic, poignant, dark, incisive – it was all here. 

Short+Sweet is a rare kind of theatre experience; a succession of brief, self-contained plays, spanning genres and emotions with very short musical interludes in between. It’s quick and exciting and it almost seems wrong to have to pick a favourite. 

The program for Week 1 featured everything from Hollywood legends to pesky birds.

The Ratings Game, written and directed by Wendy Crew and starring Tony Croft, Jawed Winjgebrael & Erica Nelson. A biting satire on the clash of values between shock jock entertainment and #metoo movement and the fickleness of the public.

The Ratings Game by Wendy Crew. Image: Jim Crew.

Missing You, written by Simon Tonkin, directed by Mary Middleton, and starring Helen Herridge, Darren George and Gavin Fryer.  A slowly unfolding twisted tale of the unexpected. A young man visits the home of his ex-girlfriend’s parents only to find they hold quite a grudge against him. 

Missing You by Simon Tonkin. Image: Jim Crew.

Diary of Marilyn, written and performed by Debbie Neilson. A touching homage to Marilyn Monroe using actual quotes and intercut with historical audio. It’s not a mere impersonation of Marilyn, but rather, a portrayal of a fragile, misunderstood human being. 

Diary of Marilyn by Debbie Neilson. Image: Jim Crew.

I Was Fine Until You Came In The Room, written by Rich Orloff, directed by Kym Vaitiekus, starring Leonard Sun, Caroline Larcombe, Rebecca May and Richard Wu.  An elderly couple at either end of the stage, recall the day they met 50 years ago, as their younger selves replay the events at centre stage. 

I Was Fine Until You Came In The Room by Rich Orloff. Image: Jim Crew.

Lullaby, written by Joe Bergin, directed by Veena Sudarshan. A couple is awakened in the middle of the night by their crying new born. When the husband leaves the room to attend to it, the wife is confronted by an intruder who claims to be the man of her dreams. 

Lullaby by Joe Bergin. Image: Jim Crew.

Twisted Ladder, written by Pauline Bleach, co-written and directed by Gabriela Loza, starring Roelene Coleman, Quaid Kirchner and Aaron Okey. It’s election night and their party has won but three aspiring young politicians discover there are only two positions available. A jab at Canberra culture. 

Twisted Ladder by Pauline Bleach and Gabriela Loza. Image: Jim Crew.

The Seagull, written by Fran Bowick, directed by Jeff Tabley, starring Tabley, Adam Dorrington and Patrick Wells. A very funny alegory on male sexual competitiveness using seagulls. Men in red tights. 

Expectations, written by Jennifer O’Grady, directed by Harriet McKern, starring Steve Wilson and Michelle McDonnell. A revelatory alternating monologue between an older Charles Dickens and his wife. Sad, infuriating, disappointing look at a great writer who was less than great in domestic affairs. 

Expectations by Jennifer O’Grady. Image: Jim Crew.

Dating Through the Decades, written by Ken Levine, directed by Gina Cohen. A very fast paced, hilarious look at the heterosexual date in repeated scenes over a number of decades. Lots of internal jokes and quick costume changes. 

Dating Through The Decades by Ken Levine. Image: Jim Crew.

It really is a fun night and definitely value for money. 

Short+Sweet Sydney continues until Sunday, 22 August. For full program details and to book tickets, visit shortandsweet.org.