Arts, OldVenue

Review: At the Closing Night of the Minotaur Shorts Festival

Picture Anchorman, but set in England. And then just erase that image from your mind, as News Night is a unique original and fresh look at the dynamics in an English newsroom. Berty and Bella (along with Brenda who hilariously third wheels them) are professional news anchors with chemistry that Ron Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone could only dream of, from the fast paced dialogue to their ‘special’ handshake. The comedy of News Night is suddenly jarred by Bertie’s heart-breaking revelation he is leaving Brenda for Sky News (not Channel 5 though, they never talk about Channel 5) which quells any hope of a relationship that is teased throughout. Special mention goes to Ciara Morris for the quick-witted, hilarious script which was brought to life by all the brilliant performances.

Common People focuses on, if the title didn’t give it away, the ordinary and, in particular, the relationship between brother and sister Herb and Nina. A chorus of four, seemingly at random intervals, break in to song and dance, covering the likes of Spandau Ballet, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Bowie to name a few. But at the heart of the play is the relationship between Herb and Nina, who discover their Gran has kicked the bucket, or as summed up by Nina as she examines the will “Yeah, yeah, yeah, dead”. However, all is not as it seems when it turns out that Herb is lying to his sister about him receiving all of Gran’s money in order to actually claim it all, a clever twist.

“God’s house is the best place for sinners”, and so begins the dark and gritty tale of the horrors that occurred in late 20th century Ireland, within the Magdalene Laundries. Maggie tells the tale of four women who have been falsely accused of sinning within the Catholic community for various reasons, including one whose beauty is described as a sin which attracts men. The piece does not make for comfortable viewing, from the sexual abuse from one of the Priests to one of the Sisters humiliating a girl by telling her to take off her clothes. But what it does is paint a realistic and captivating portrayal of the hypocrisy surrounding Ireland at the time which is beautifully acted, written and directed.

The final piece of the evening was Crossword which centres on a bus stop and a difficult conversation between 14 year old tough talking, trackie wearing Mattie and your awkward 17 year old everyman Frank. We can all relate to poor Frank as we’ve all had an awkward conversation, maybe not to that extent, like that at the bus stop. The conversation varies from drugs (“Maybe you should talk to FRANK, Frank”) to Matthew McConaughey to a hilarious “Your Mum” fight off, albeit Mattie does the majority of the talking. Amongst the comedy the piece seems to contain a message that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, as Mattie shows intelligence through her freakishly good crossword ability and fails to mention to Frank that the bus has been diverted as she just wants to talk to him, a heart-warming piece to finish the shorts.

18/11/2014

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D.Struthers