Last time I reviewed Short & Sweet (week 3) I seemed to bruise a few egos (ironic given that I thought I was being quite nice compared to how I have slaughtered some of the big guns). It all stems from the word ‘amateur’. Those people taking umbrage at the concept of being called amateur, can I remind you that the essential meaning of the word is to do something for love, not money? Almost all people involved in this community event are unpaid. The draw of being involved in Short & Sweet is to not only enjoy your moment in the light, maybe showcase your work or experiment in a non-threatening environment and to most importantly, celebrate the Arts in action.
Yay for you. Now get over yourselves. This is not a high stakes career move. Even the pro’s understand this is an amateur festival so don’t get offended if I continue to call it such. It doesn’t mean you won’t find talent on stage, it just means that it’s open to everyone and results may be inconsistent because of its open door policy. But isn’t that worth celebrating too? I have seen some people hop up who would never get a look in inside the industry and probably never seek to pursue it and I’m moved by their joy at having their moment on stage in front of family and friends.
Enough. Let’s look at week 4. This week stepped up the standard from last week. In fact when it came time to vote it was actually difficult to decide between 4 of them out of the 10 and the others were mostly solid pieces of work too. And in the spirit of inclusiveness, let me briefly cover some of the positives of each 10 minute play.
‘Shackles’ was a solid duo exploring the bond between sisters when the rest of your life has turned to crapola. ‘The Forgetting’ was played with risk in exploring the metaphor of the ‘fringe’, ‘Tis The Season’ was an energetic homage to ‘Cosi’, as was ‘Like a House on Fire’, an engaging monologue performed confidently by Erin McMullen, ‘Let Me In’ was a nice showcase of young talent with a brief committed cameo by Rita McCormack and ‘Dispatch’ was a thoughtful piece on life, love and death.
Special mentions go to the comic tropfest style piece ‘Three’s A Crowd’ whose tag paid dividends and ‘I’m Falling Through The Sky’ was another strong contender and delivered with skill and emotion by its cast Gael Ballantyne and Tessa Coulter.
But the highlights of the show for me were ‘Driving The Holden’ and ‘The Athiest’.
‘Driving The Holden’ created a world and backstory in its short time frame, developing dimensions in the relationship between the characters as their journey intertwines. It’s the sort of play you wish was longer. Special acknowledgement of Harley Connor’s performance of Eddie, whose magnetic presence and focus made this play enjoyable and engaging.
When ‘The Athiest’ started I thought it was going to be another sledgehammer of obvious tactics and stock characterisation so for this play to completely win me over is a credit to performers and directors (who are one and the same). The expressiveness, comic timing and clever concepts in writing were a great way to finish the night.
I am a real fan of the (amateur) Short & Sweet Festival. It is absolutely worth the Government Arts funding and it warms my cold, bitter (amateur) heart seeing all those (amateur) punters up there in one form or another having an (amateur) ball.
It’s the power of theatre and theatre for the people at its most inclusive (amateur) best.