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Beware the Creeper!

Iain's life as a psychotic crimefighter

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"Crossed Lines" - Best of the Rest

So, on Sunday our first play in the Short and Sweet festival was performed - "Crossed Lines". "Best of the Rest" is the drip tray of "Short and Sweet" - plays which Alex and Mark liked but weren't selected for the main competition by directors.

Alex was sure to let the audience know that the plays weren't also rans (in one or two cases, which I'll get to, I'd beg to differ) but that with such a large field (over 1000 plays submitted and 100 plays in the main programme) some worthy plays would be passed over, and this is their chance to get an audience. "Crossed Lines" was our submission to the 2004 Short and Sweet, and we were surprised that Alex wanted to give it a run in "Best of the Rest", even though we already had two plays in the main competition. Anyway - we had a read through on Saturday and Brett managed to work out enough staging to give it pretty close to a full production.

I'll get back to "Crossed Lines" but here are my thoughts on the other plays:

Selling Sartre by Lachlan Williams - a monologue about an advertiser trying to sell existentialism (not just Sartre, there was a reference to Camus as well.) I didn't like it that much, though the others thought it was good. I guess it made its point, then made it again, and again. There was some development of the main character and the performance was good. I just found it a little obvious.

Suicide Watch by Mariantonia Cara - two guys use the attempted suicide of an ex-girlfriend (that bit wasn't clear, I got it from the programme) to avoid going to a party. Badly motivated and rather pointless. The only interesting part was that the female role was played by a disabled actress (which wasn't required for the role.) Should be more casting like it, but the play itself was bad.

Bastards by Richard Graham - issue play about asbestosis. Better than the other issue play as there was some character conflict. Not much more to it though then "aren't corporations bastards?" Hence the title.

Red-Handed by Renee Brack - woman in jeopardy play, disturbingly similar to ours (though, of course, we played it for laughs.) Unfortunate choice of character name - "Constable Vic Morrow" - made me expect a comedy, which it wasn't. It would make a good short film. Not much of a play, however.

Mr Henry's Habitual Halibut by Paul Smith - surrealist encounter between a woman, her mother hanging in a closet and an ex-rock star who pulls fish out of his pants. Not quite as bad as it sounds, but doesn't go anywhere and takes too long to do it. Alex obviously likes the author's work and thought that the directors' weren't really brave enough to take it on. Judging by the stage directions (it was a straight reading) it would have been too resource intensive to stage for "Short and Sweet", and it was about 15 minutes long anyway, therefore ineligible for entry. Smith is working in the same vein as Ionesco and N.F. Simpson but doesn't seem quite there yet. Still, Alex is right to promote him, Paul Smith may go on to be a major talent.

Sex, Death and Chocolate by Victor Kline - a playwright gets his play bollixed by commercial pressures. Not bad, fairly obvious (and also playing to the right crowd) but it should have been about a film script rather than a play.

Another Sort of Seachange by Phillipa Dimakis - an affluent Australian family become refugees asylum seekers. The other issue play, a well acted and written monologue that told us nothing that we don't already know. Alex really wanted this in the main competition (he was pimping for a spare director before the deadline apparently) but I found it more preaching to the choir.

Crossed Lines by B W Shearer - yes, another play with the same name as ours (which was on immediately after it.) Basically a good, and emotionally effective, Twilight Zone type story about a call from the past.

Just Visiting by Dina Ross - a man visits his wife in a mental hospital. Not bad, but not particularly memorable. Sort of damning with faint praise, I know, but I found the writing a bit overtly theatrical.

Saints and Sinners by Duncan Armitage - humourous confrontation between an Irish priest and a seemingly deranged woman. This was very funny, some good gags (I wished Brett had caught it). Duncan was a little soft in performance as the priest but he could be forgiven as he was also the writer/director as well.

On the whole only "Suicide Watch" was not really good enough for the main programme, in my opinion. It would be good to see a full production of "Mr Henry's Habitual Halibut" but not in "Short and Sweet" unless the technical demands (and the length) were cut down. It bodes well for the main programme (I haven't seen anything yet - tonight's the opening of "It's Not You.")

Our play "Crossed Lines" was well received. Mal and Jackie managed to get laughs purely through their manner which was a joy to see. Olivia was a really good frightened power-bitch. The "surprise" ending did seem to catch some people out (some clever staging from Brett helped, as did Mal's performance.) On the whole it got some great laughs.

One play down, two to go.

Stay tuned.