Significant Other Festival

The Significant Other Festival (Genres) present a varied and enjoyable mix of new writing, with strong female voices and some stand-out performances

The Significant Other Festival (Genres) at The Park Theatre, Finsbury Park, was produced by the Pensive Federation, and proved a very enjoyable mix of new writing and performance. Comprised of ten 10 minute plays, each small company (one director and two actors) was given five days to stage their piece, with the added challenge that each of the ten plays had not just been inspired by the theme of the Significant Other, but also attributed a specific genre: Western, Crime, Thriller, Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Noir or Musical. There were also only ten props to choose from (including an iceberg lettuce, which was surprisingly popular); the recurrence of these objects almost became a sub-theme and helped tie the plays together.

I enjoyed playing ‘spot the genre’, easier with some than others, as many had extrapolated from a trope or characteristic of the traditional genre and adapted it, sometimes very playfully and sophisticatedly. The mix of genres, styles and actors in this 10x10 festival offered something to both the theatre-novice and the seasoned audience member, both accessible and fun as well as subversive and clever. Another attraction of a collection of short plays is that if you don’t like one they’ll always be another in a few minutes!

Women’s voices, both on stage and off (as directors and playwrights) were refreshingly present, and speaking to Serena Haywood of the Pensive Federation she said that although this was a conscious choice, there had been such a wealth of talent there had been no need to positively discriminate.

Stand out pieces and performances included: COYI, by Penny Faith (directed by Brony Jervis-Taylor, and performed by Lucy Fazey and Ryan Wicher) which was very well written and performed, with plenty of laughs (‘I need to know if it’s just West Ham keeping us together’); the surprisingly tense It’s Not You, by Kate Webster; and Caitlin Ince and Dominc Ridley’s subtle performances of a doomed relationship in Wherever I Lay My Hat (which used the genre of Noir to great comic effect). But, without a doubt, the most memorable performances and writing came from A Month and Five Days (writer, lyricist and director Mike Carter’s debut musical), starring Alexandra Fisher and Daniel Page and composed by Lemon Otter and Franner Jordan. Telling the tale of Jack Andrews, wannabe musical star, and Julie Lockwood, a seemingly uptight librarian secretly aspiring to be Julie Andrews (in both senses!). Fisher gave a stunning performance and I’ll certainly be looking out for her on the big screen and stage. I was absolutely in stitches to ‘We Can’t Duet Yet’, and Carter absolutely nailed it with the lyric: ‘You need the metre, rhythm and rhyme; you need the know-how, passion and time.’ A Month and Five Days sounded like it had all six.

(c) Kate Massey-Chase 2013
reviewed Thursday 23rd May 2013

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