9th November saw the opening of the Minotaur’s Theatre Company’s annual Shorts, a three-day spree of theatrical delight in the form of seventeen short plays written, directed and performed by UEA’s drama students. And what a weird and wonderful hour and a half it was, with the first six plays varying from an extended scene in a toy cupboard to a futuristic zombie apocalypse and a birthday party featuring blow-up sex dolls. Yes, you did read correctly.
The show got off to an interesting start as actors clad in men-in-black-inspired costumes (shades included) perused the stage to make last minute stage set-ups for Elliot Hughes “Tricksters”, an experimental play that relied on the willingness of five unprepared “volunteers” to follow the unseen narrator’s visual cues. Next, the audience got to relive their childhoods as decommissioned TV stars Noddy, Barney, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Michelangelo, Fireman Sam, Postman Pat and Tilly (Tots TV) graced the stage in Charlotte Graham’s brilliant, and a teensy bit nostalgic, “Off Air”. Angry Noddy was a particular highlight. Jack Carmichael and Rob Ellis’ “Apocalyse, When?” preceded the intermission and received howls of laughter from an extremely upbeat audience – whoever said zombies couldn’t be funny?
Nick Bentley’s “Cecil and Sofia Are Coming to Dinner” kicked off the second half with an engaging discussion of our present economy and the presentation of conservative anti-immigration and homophobic views from an utterly detestable banker. James Ferguson and Natalia Massucco’s bizarre “Blow Me Up” (here’s where the sex dolls come in!) followed, in which a troubled fifty-something envisions his own birthday party. Last, but certainly not least, was Jess Scotton’s “The Forgotten”, a poignant depiction of war that included a signature Black Adder-esque slow mo to finish.
Riddled with experimental script-writing and plot choices, an incredible effort from all involved and interesting set designs, the show was extremely refreshing. Despite the varying storylines that initially seemed too diverse to fit together, they gelled surprisingly well and successfully contributed to the whole production. It was an overtly daring and wonderful montage from a very gifted group of actors.