Monday, 2 December 2013

JB Shorts 10 @ Joshua Brooks, 26.11.13

A posing Mozart, a man playing Uncle Sam and a full-of-himself thespian all on one stage, on one night, can only mean one thing: JB Shorts is back.

First off the thespian in What A Performance, featuring a bickering bunch preparing for a meaningless matinee. The directing had some nice touches and the dialogue was fun, even if the story itself was going over well-worn ground. Following in its footsteps came Big Game, which touched on some interesting ideas concerning body image and gender, but felt more like an essay on the subject rather than a conversation two people might actually have. Relationship counselling conundrum Relate also dealt with interesting issues, this time concerning sexuality. However, it felt like once the plot twist was revealed it had nowhere else to go...

...which takes us into the interval. And, to mirror the night, let me take a few moments to have an interval of my own and say a couple of words on the series itself. JB Shorts is always entertaining, but sometimes it feels like you’re seeing the same actors performing scripts by the same writers covering similar subjects. There’s always one piece about the theatre, another about a one-night stand and usually something involving therapy. JB Shorts 10 was no different, which is a shame since the supportive audience and short format make it ideal for experimentation. Anyway, back to the plays...

...after the break came Icarus Descending, whose plot concerned a possible meeting between Mozart and Beethoven. While not a bad idea in itself it didn't quite work on this occasion, perhaps because the references were a touch predictable.

Then came the last two plays, which turned out to be by far the best. Penultimate performance A Special Relationship, written by James Quinn, was a humorous take on Anglo-American relations. Featuring a well concealed reveal, the script was full of funny one-liners and managed to be political without being preachy. Mention too should go to Rob Ward and Sarah McDonald Hughes, whose deliberately stereotyped characters (American and French respectively) were perfectly balanced on the border between satire and silliness.

Following this was a welcome return for never-been-kissed couple Angela (Susan McArdle) and Andrew (Will Travis), in Blind Date 2. Last time out (Blind Date was performed at JB Shorts 9) ended in disappointment, but in the intervening months absence has made the heart grow fonder. The acting was spot on, the writing funny and caring, while the directing kept it all moving along at just the write pace and with plenty of feeling. A great end to another fun night out at JB Shorts.

Words: Andrew Anderson

Image: JB Shorts

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