The opening night of Short+Sweet was spent in laughter, sadness and heartbreak, from the talent of actors young and old. The concept is simple. Eight, ten-minute short plays, shown at the Tom Mann Theatre in Strawberry Hills. The audience and judges vote for their two favourites in each half of the night, to proceed to finales come the end of the festival.
Upon entry, a still, silent body sat under the spotlight, covered in a white sheet, for the aptly titled opener, “Another Dead Body Play”, directed by Steven Williams. Two caricature-like police detectives burst on stage – the weathered, bitter professional, and the rookie junior. In a hilarious, pun filled conquest, the over-imaginative cops go off on every tangent possible to try and solve the case. Prime suspects include Hitler and the Amish. It’s a play on every bad cop movie you’ve ever seen.
In swift transition from hilarity to mourning, a weathered Victoria Hopkins emerges in a ragged wedding dress for the self-directed “The Dusty Hour”. It was a powerful soliloquy filled with Shakespearian language, taking sectors of Lady Macbeth’s most famous lines into a modern setting. Hopkins is commanding and strong in her actions, yet her speech and expression showed a character falling apart. To say the least, it was heartbreaking and incredibly moving.
“I Like Chocolate, is That So Bad?”, directed by Henrietta Stathopoulos, is a lighthearted take on when addiction becomes too much. To sugary treats, that is. A reluctant court-ordered cocoa addict opens up on her rock bottom to a small group of similar folks.
The undeniable highlight of the night was “The Eulogy”. A young boy appears in a wheelchair, and we soon realise he has passed away, and is observing his funeral. He watches as a girl he admired from a mirror whilst bed-locked, comes up to the alter to eulogise him, based on a diary his mother gave to her after he passed away. Detailing his hidden love, she shuns his idealized imaginings of what she was like, and they both mourn a friendship that could have been.
After a short intermission, a cycle of cheating rolls through multiple couples in “The Pacific Solution”. Each believing their hidden lover is their soul mate, the irony was stronger than ever.
In The Problem With Philosophy, Socrates and his wife have a final moment in prison on the night before his self-appointed death.
The second highlight was in Reality Check, a one woman play by Annisa Belonogoff, who drunkenly muses through the hardships of searching for love in the modern world, alongside Uber Eats, some white wine, and Tinder. Breaking the fourth wall, she spoke to the audience as her sub-conscious, effortlessly flowing through the hilarious monologue.
Finishing off the night was a play written by the Short and Sweet festival staff, titled How to Write a 10 Minute Play – The 10 Minute Play. In an 80’s fitness instructor video style, an acting trainer dressed in active wear and her two actor puppets showed what not to do in a short play.
All in all, a fantastic night of entertainment from actors of all ages. If this standard is kept up across the weeks, the gala finale will be incredible to see.
Reviewed by Emilie Carmona