UEA Drama Society’s annual Spotlights Festival is two days of eight new short plays written, directed, and produced by Drama Society members. Here’s Ella Dorman-Gajic’s reviews of Thursday night’s plays:
- Conquistador by Jonny Davidson
Hitmen Dan and Stewart sit in a Spanish bar, awaiting the daunting arrival of their boss, sipping beer and contemplating the bar’s pathetic ‘Dorset’ style interior. The comedic moments were well-received and layered nicely with the underlying tension between the characters; power dynamics were sharply crafted, with some unexpected moments and dark humour which took a clever satirical twist. However, the end felt sudden, meaning the tone remained similar throughout. This is a piece that could be nicely fleshed out with a longer script.
- Post Show by Safia Hall
When Alex is surprised by the appearance of his Mother after his show, he is forced to face up to the conflicts of his childhood. The tension between these characters was immediately apparent, making us want to understand their estrangement, whilst sensitively exploring important themes of sexuality and loyalty. However, most scenes were slowly paced, failing to capture dramatic tension. The clunky use of props and slow transitions took us out of the action; much of the acting lacked nuance and a sense of motivation, with poor projection meaning dialogue was lost. This made it difficult to become invested in the characters. However, Hattie Manton as the Mother captured a good sense of age, characterisation and a conflicting moral compass.
- Off the Wall by Natalie Froome
Two men stand many metres up in the air on a platform, cleaning windows. What could possibly go wrong? This sketch-style piece had some funny moments, despite being unevenly dispersed. Visual humour was well orchestrated, however the actors didn’t manage to master much of the comic timing required. The power dynamics, although clear, could have been pushed further: the trope of ‘grumpy boss’ and ‘annoying intern’ was immediately apparent and didn’t allow for a natural build. The structure needed honing, perhaps with a clearer resolution between the characters after the ‘crisis’ moment, and a more precise ending.
- Necronomicomedy by Alexander Wiseman
Funny, freakish and fucking wacko: after a sudden kidnapping, a girl awakes to an underground world of spells and sacrifice. Each character had their individual tropes, delivering equal shares of cooky and hilarious moments, with Sebastian Garbacz’s hobgoblin physicality and fixation on shouting ‘sacrifice knife’ leaving us in stitches. The heightened, ridiculous comedy gave these classic fantasy tropes a spellbinding new twist; this was nicely juxtaposed with contemporary humour and witty one-liners. The characters were completely immersed in the delusional, necromantic world they had carved for themselves, and the hilarious hierarchies between them and their orator. This piece just needs some sharpening on pacing, but a brilliant show nonetheless.