The cast of Seth Freeman’s comedy, IMPERFECTLY FRANK. Pic Sylvi Soe

A smorgasbord of humour, hysteria, absurdity, melancholy and mayhem is on offer for Week 7 of “Short & Sweet” festival.

The eleven plays chosen for this week are all impressive – well crafted and performed.

The final play on the bill DRAGOSTEA MEA is a ‘tour de force’, a masterful monologue – written, directed and acted by Lucy Gransbury – who takes the audience on a desperately funny journey. Tragic bride, Livia Bistriceanu is waiting in the driveway of husband No. 2, Leo Dicaprio, armed with imaginary baby “Jesus” and her scrapbook. Gransbury has the audience in the palm of her hand throughout the performance.

American writer, Seth Freeman, has contributed a funny, lively play, IMPERFECTLY FRANK, about the Sindhu and Jaswani Indian families and their arranged gay marriage between non-gay men. Directed with energy by Terry Meller, it is performed with great Bollywood style by Ravi Chanana, Aishveryaa Nidhi, Rickardo Wesley and Cheryl Khurana.

THE USE OF A FRIEND, written and directed by Martin Estridge, is based on the last hours of ‘one of the most gruesome episodes in Australian history’. It is a true story based on the escape of eight convicts from Macquarie Harbour Penal colony in 1822. Here we have the only remaining two, ‘Pearce’ (Evin Donohoe), and ‘Greenhill’ (Brendan Estridge), tormented by horrific memories and struggling for survival. The acting is terrific and the fight scene, (directed by Kyle Rowling), tense and frightening.

Do doctors over-prescribe? Writer and director, Vee Malnar, presents a hilarious threesome in DRUGS.Nonchalant, golf-obsessed doctor (Wayne Underwood) is confronted by an exasperated wife, Mrs Jamowski (Ciara Mckeown) and her ailing husband, Mr Jamowski-Patient (Mark Smith). As the wife abuses the doctor, her husband is overcome by the ghastly symptoms that his wife is reading out loud, while the doctor feebly tries to prescribe more drugs. Mckeown and Smith make a wonderful couple, with great contrast. We know who wears the trousers.

THE SMELL OF RAIN, by Rene Boyer-Willisson, is about a life changing moment for a placid, conservative accountant, Mike (Matt Graham), caught in a downpour of rain with rainbow child, Serenity (Laura Holmes). Beautifully directed/choreographed and cast by Alicia Gonzalez, there is a satisfying conclusion and a feeling of happiness with this play.

PARADISE– a colourful and imaginative journey to the ‘Garden Of Eden’, is beautifully written by Simon Weaving. Adam and Eve become the symbolic fish that they are hauling in; the love fish/the small physical pleasure fish/the large existential angst fish. Director Jack Spahr and actors, Adele Tyson and Lewis McDonald, bring this fable to life with great style and humour.

Belinda Lopez has written ETERNITY – a very touching play about dementia, with a gentle and touching performance by Ursula Dauenhauer as the mother.

Likewise, the play YOU HAVEN’T CHANGED A BIT, written by Donna Hoke, is a high school reunion for over 70s, with a very real and touching undercurrent about the sadness of old age.

A wonderful cast of insects are trapped in IN THE JAR, by Mark Harvey Levine.

WHY WE’RE HERE is a funny play about infidelity in a strained marriage, with a fresh take on relationships and counselling by writer Ruth Fingret. “Of course I ejaculate prematurely, I’m a busy man”, says husband Steve. The acting is great too.

Another funny play is THE REAL ONE, by Peter Woolf, a spoof on the Peoples’ Liberation Movement for Justice in Arabia and radio host Alan Jones.

I wanted to mention all the plays for this week as the standard is so high and I congratulate all the writers, directors and performers.

© Bronwyn Fullerton

22nd February, 2013
Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- SHORT AND SWEET WEEK 7, Sydney Arts Guide, Bronwyn Fullerton.