Although it’s not quite Christmas yet, I’m sure you have all seen the sudden mountain of milk tray so temptingly on offer, or so many chocolate oranges they surely can’t all belong to Terry. Tis the season of indulgence, (well almost) and were there are those that like to start their Christmas shopping early, I rather get a head start on my festive feasting and in this instance it’s on the theatrical buffet of JB Shorts 14. Best get my fat pants!
Andrew Lynch’s Emily is an interesting story that starts in the toilets of a horseracing event. Janice (Alexandra Jay Jones) is a rich social butterfly who belittles toilet attendant Lena (Emily Fleeshman) for “not knowing her place”. But Janice soon discovers she has more in common with Lena as she thinks. A nice piece with some good twists but slightly dampened with messy blackouts to mark the three scene changes.
All Items of Value Have Been Removed is set in the future where the world’s countries have been bought up, leaving Britain the last standing and holding back from being sold. More frightful Tony Blair is having a second round of fame! The piece evidently carries a political message and one I’m sure is rather weighty, and certainly for now too big for 15 minute window. This satirical comedy could do with a second chance to reach it’s potential if performed in a different format.
The Outing is a lovely piece of writing and one I really enjoyed. Widower Frank (Josh Moran) meets social recluse Nellie (Jeni Howarth Williams) during a coach trip. The façade of this romantic comic piece is shattered with an unexpected twist, revealing how the ill doings and reputation of someone can unjustly be transferred to another.
Another favourite is found with Sugared Armour, a classic paradigm of estranged characters brought together through unfortunate circumstances. Gemma (Jo Dakin), Annie (Victoria Scowcroft) and Andy (Derek Hicks) all eagerly wait in a hospital waiting room for the fast approaching death of their mother. Memories are recalled, and wounds are opened - some of which run deeper than others, but the answers aren’t at the bottom of a pack of sausage rolls.
Heroine is the most poignant piece of the evening, bringing together two monologues performed simultaneously. Though living in two eras the female characters have the same objective; to prevent their daughter/sister from running away to fight in war. 1930s Ursula (Kerry Willison-Parry) discovers her daughter in the middle of the night about to leave to fight the Fascists in Spain, whereas in 2015 Aalia (Shila Iqbal) discovers her sister packing to fight for ISIS. By far the most thought provoking piece but I did find to be too ‘wordy’ which meant as an audience we didn’t respond as well as we should. Particularly the contemporary side of the script was in parts repetitive, but overall a piece that will be something special with a little bit of a tidy up.
Equal Shares is a play most fitting it the comic expectations of JB Shorts. Two wrong women Joanne (Rachel Logan) and Claire (Eve Burley) mutual agree on a vengeance for Richard (Marlon Solomon) after discovering he has married both of them. A vengeance of which the women get to share Richard, but not in the way he expects, a silly light-hearted piece to end another successful collection of JB Shorts.
Words: Kate Morris
Images: Courtesy of Brainne Edge