My assignment for the Extremely Short Play Festival was to write some extremely short reviews. So, here they are, in order of presentation:
Ambition: a one man play written by Adam Pierre, which is the story of a young man who escapes the streets of New York with dreams of becoming an actor. The performance is solid and got you rooting for the main character.
Just Desserts: written by Kelley Tish Baker, puts a cook who prepares the last meals for inmates on death row in conflict with a human resources inspector who doesn’t see the merit in it. It’s a debate about what rights and privileges should be afforded to the most violent criminals. Not only does the conflict between the characters escalates quickly, the play is well executed… no pun intended.
Vicious: Personalities collide in this play by David O’Meara, when Socrates meets with Sid Vicious in the afterlife and discuss philosophy. The writing could perhaps have been tighter, but it is a cool idea held up by the intriguing and well-acted characters.
Happy: written by Tina Prud’homme, is about two would-criminals who hold a hamster for ransom. The characters are a bit flat but still likable, and the story is good enough to hold them.
Late: by Lawrence Aronovitch, tells of two women, old friends and former lovers, who meet for lunch and reminisce about their past. The writing is solid and the performances incredible.
The Bridge: by Jessica Anderson is an absurdly hilarious confrontation between a man and woman, both ready to jump off a bridge to their death and end up fighting over who should go first. The show is funny and hits all its marks beautifully, making it a highlight of the night.
Float like a Butterfly: a story about an everyday schmuck who finds his calling in the boxing ring. A one man monologue written by Kevin and James Smith, its story is simple and charming.
The Dog, The Cat, and the Fish: written by Andrea Connell, this is a warning about the dangers of online dating and the potential for disaster. The play has a few structural issues, especially towards the end, but is a good idea saved by solid performances.
The Orerry: written by Pierre Brault, is a portrait of an astrophysicist reminiscing about his wife undergoing treatment for cancer. Solid chemistry and writing make it a heartwarming story.
You Win: is the quirky story of an incredibly tense and neurotic man who feels compelled to walk in to a specific Tim Hortons for what turns out to be grand and cosmic reasons. The exaggerated performances suited the style of the show well.
When the World Blew Away: The night wraps up on a sombre note with this play by Geoff McBride, telling the story of a soldier trying to save a woman trapped in a collapsed house. With an emotional story and powerful performances, the show wraps up the night with the bang is deserves.
The Extremely Short Play Festival is like a smorgasbord of theatre. You get a little taste of everything. And since, technically, it’s eleven plays, you get a real bang for your buck. Now I turn it over to Production Ottawa’s editor-in-chief, Allan Mackey, for the wrap-up:
Overall, the performers of the Extremely Short Play Festival did an outstanding job, especially considering the many different roles they all took on. It feels like Brian Stewart was in almost every play and he brought a nice characterization to each ensuring that he felt fresh every time. Kristina Watt was also a star running the gamut from playing the stoned – and male -British rocker, Sid Vicious to a woman on the verge of death after her house was at hit by the 1916 Halifax Explosion.
The playwrights, too, did themselves proud for the fest. While one or two weren’t for me, all were worthy of the evening and contributed to a varied experience from comedy to tragedy to thought-provoking to outright silly. Standouts of the night were easily Jessica Anderson’s dark and slightly absurdist comedy “The Bridge”, Pierre Brault’s extremely well-written and heart touching “The Orrery”, and “When the World Blew Away” which was – literally – a show stopping drama from Geoff McBride.
As both director of the plays and originator of the fest here in Ottawa, John Koensgen earns the acclaim and can be proud of a fun and entertaining night. He was able to do a lot with a little on many different levels. Here’s looking forward to next year’s Extremely Short Play Festival.
— Allan Mackey
So, did you manage to get out to the Extremely Short Play Festival? Which play or actor stood out the most to you? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo for this article provided by the New Theatre of Ottawa.