Reviewed by Regina Su
The Short and Sweet Gala Finals at The Depot theatre were very impressive this year. There was such a variety of plays performed, having made it through Wildcard rounds, People's Choice, Judges’ picks and weekly Top 80s. I'm always in awe at how well crafted these plays are, with wicked plot twists, sharp dialogue and astute social critiques. What's more, the commitment from the actors this year was very impressive. There were several monologues performed, as well as ensemble pieces with music, with casts that ranged in age and cultural background. Congratulations to all the acts that participated in 2016 Short and Sweet!
1. “Game Night” took to the stage first. In a satirical take on family conflict, the audience was taken on a journey following a game of monopoly that lead to chaos. A fun, lighthearted play to get the audience laughing and set the scene for the night.
2. “Baby Blues” threw us into the deep end with a hilarious monologue delivered by a hand puppet. This fun play gave a cute critique on middle class parenting and the perils that come with it, from the perspective of a baby. With subtle commentary on the debate around public breastfeeding, Ruth Pieloor, gave a flawless performance.
3. I particularly enjoyed “The Political Bachelorette”. This reality game show parody had fast quips and explicit commentary of contemporary Australian politics. The characterisation and political rhetoric was very well captured. In fact, I hope to see Kate Macdessi in the writing credits of revues or skits (Chaser-esque) in the near future. It was very current, with clever commentary on gender equality and our government system.
4. “Walked Over” was one of my favourites. In an astute snapshot of married life, we were faced with a conversation between a man and wife, that oozed with tension and acidity. The wife clearly had a stranglehold over her partner and he didn't have much freedom at all. This play was really lifted by the cast- unnerving and completely convincing, and ended with a tip of the hat to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. Excellent plot twist!
5. “Heaven.Com” was a unique insight into Heaven, and what would happen if Heaven were finally hooked up to the Internet. In a cheeky look at illegal downloading, hacking and overseas service centres, this play was a light comedy that put the IT industry in the spotlight.
6. “Tea Time” was this year's pick by the festival director, and presented the sad reality of life with Alzheimer’s disease and/dementia. It was rather unsettling, because it felt more like a vignette of real life, with sneaky echoes of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”.
7. “Chemistry Test” ended the first half with a bang. This clinical comedy of Internet dating called for very physical performances from the actors, and left the audience laughing with a last minute plot twist. It was a feel good performance that held up a mirror to our online habits, and the profiles we post of ourselves.
8. Following interval, “Match of the Century” was the highlight of my night. It was a polished mash up of hip hop and rap, with a sprinkling of slam poetry, aided by talented musicians on double bass, percussion and keyboard. This flawless performance followed a 1970s chess tournament between the Soviet and the United States. The ensemble were so quick and never missed a beat- their fast dialogue was mind boggling. Sublime!
9. The Wildcard Finals Judges’ Choice was “Bi. Cycle (The Sammy Steel Spin Class)”. Written and performed by Sam Anderson, this play was a whirlwind monologue exploring sexuality through the cathartic process of instructing a spin class. Anderson’s performance was so physical and incredibly passionate. The lack of props left everything to the imagination, and the slick wordplay made for a powerful message. A clear crowd favourite.
10. “Blind Date” was a whimsical play on the art of dating, and showcased the thoughts of the couple through performed subconscious banter. Clever and feel good, this play was a fun snapshot of dating reality.
11. “Who Wants To Be A Channel Nine Intern?” was a really fun play about a job interview - gone reality show. This performance gathered momentum and just snowballed Into laughter that bounced off the audience. It felt quite improvised and self aware. With a lot of production elements in sound and lighting, it really felt like the real deal.
12. “Sauerkraut” was a unique monologue set in Nazi Germany. Writer and performer Gina Cohen displayed a passionate and physical performance that was able to to create the scene in our collective imaginary. She had incredible focus and commitment.
13. “The Revenge of Mr Meowgi” was the perfect play to finish the night with. A grown man in a morphsuit, acting like a cat trying to sabotage a date- the audience was in hysterics. Such a fun concept ended the night on a high.
I look forward to next year's line up.
Photos by Sylvi Soe