A highlight of each academic year, the Minotaur Theatre Company Shorts Festival began with Bobbi Sleafer-Nunes’ Palm Readers. A precisely constructed play with an unusual focus, it presents a young couple’s struggle with intimate adversity.
Before the curtains re-open, the sound of an old-time cigarette advert is projected over the audience. Written by David McCabe, The Big Top parodies the classic film noir to perfection.
The penultimate play for the night was an excellent example of pure and emotional writing. Within The Girl in the Photo, Izzy Cutler addresses deep themes of suicide, domestic abuse, and regret – all of which were performed with great consideration by the cast.
The final short had the task of altering the heavy atmosphere of the room, accomplished unquestionably by Geronimo Bennington-Poulter’s Grace. Filled with wickedly naughty humour, the writing has numerous flashes of brilliance and moments of explicit physical intimacy, leaving the audience in excitable shock.
Written by Toby Skelton, Vaudeville Hearts was a clear and genuine crowd-pleaser, starting the evening on a high with a standing ovation. This short play followed Jo, played passionately by Holly Richards, who meets a clown in the rain by a bus stop: the short was a great life-affirming depiction of two strangers sharing a chance encounter that blossoms into a beautiful twenty minutes of fun.
Following this was 2071, a look at the confines of a futuristic dystopia. Four people imprisoned in a room, each identified by a tattooed number and the secrets that they carry. The play shows the tensions that grow as they begin to question the society in which they live.
The interlude was followed by Tease, a look into a sexually and emotionally abusive relationship. Masterfully written by Becky Pick, it explores the relationship from both the victim’s and the abuser’s perspectives, showing that there is more than one way for someone to be abusive.
The night ended with Vienna, a dream narrative of a young man and his literal dream girl. Amazingly directed by Rohan Gotobed, the entire piece gives off a sense of choreography whilst also retaining a dreamy and surrealist atmosphere.
The final evening began with Transfer, the story of a teenager’s blood abnormality. Told from several perspectives, this all-female cast emanated a sense of detachment from the focus of their emotions and lives. Ultimately the play is about facing your problems, fears and adventures.
Next was White Girls, a comedic piece on two British millenials recounting their social activist gap year. Very theatrical in its medium, it results in an unexpectedly touching play on humanity and injustice.
Cut-Glass Compass also took a turn for the comedic as it opened with a woman’s lament for her devastatingly bland son. Aesthetically screaming luxury, the play’s hilarity hints at a deeper and darker meaning to this black comedy.
Wrapping up the festival was Kids In America, testing the limits of the stage by switching between an interview set and that of a genre-defining sitcom. It takes on a dark twist focusing on how media and fiction rule our lives, sometimes to extreme limits, with tragic results.