Scenesaver’s Just Write! competition was a wonderful and diverse display of new writing talent, culminating in live performances of the winning plays at White Bear Theatre, London.
With a range of genres tackled, and an age difference of nearly 40 years between the winning writers, it was wonderful to show so many sides to new and fresh theatre.
Each night had a different, experienced director and group of actors.
The first night had Cerys Jones directing Kevin Douglas’ fast paced comedy “Yesterday/ Today” and the devastating “Reaching Alice” by Kyra Williams.
The former had the audience laughing out loud from witty beginning to madcap flirty end as the plot’s multi-verse hopping became sillier and sillier. Will Tusker put a delightful amount of energy into his rendition of Robert, running around the stage (and into the audience at one point) while Joshua Jewkes changed his characterisation in each scene perfectly.
“Reaching Alice”, however, highlighted the versatility of the selection of plays on show with a slow build into a profoundly moving and upsetting piece of theatre. Emily Bates and Ruth Parratt perfectly conveyed the frustrating and conflicting layers to their characters’ relationship, with a wonderful chemistry (or anti-chemistry). By the final lines of the play, at least half the room (possibly including some of the cast) were in tears.
Night two, directed by White Bear artistic director Michael Kingsbury, began with “The Palace Garden” by Robert Frew. Its interesting moral conundrum and slow-building but ever-present tension led to a wonderful 40 minutes of theatre.
“Sister Bea’s Full Branzino” was similar in some respects; also a slow-building play on difficult questions. The dark humour in Steven Fromm’s script also shone through, with Vincent Shiels and Laetita Coulson’s awkward and piercing chemistry creating squirms of laughter and anticipation, while Joanna Strafford’s naive and friendly characterisation added both moments of relief and a chance to revel in the story’s twists.
The final play of night two was Matthew Fisher’s “What Would Dave Do”, a play with a new laugh on every line. Mixing a dry sense of humour with very silly jokes created a light piece of theatre that was a joy to watch.
Michael Mcmanus directed the final two winners.
“Naptime”, by Robin Cantwell took an interesting look at class and homelessness, as well as taking an intriguing look at the way relationships (both romantic and platonic) can blossom, with some tension but also some very funny moments. The build up was perfect, and the ending received a huge laugh as the play’s point was hit home.
The final play was James Morgan’s “The Golden Age“. Running in reverse chronological order, it took a timely look at celebrity and gossip culture. The tragedy at the centre of it was felt deeply right until the final moments.
Overall, it was a treat to give the opportunity for these first-time playwrights to have their work performed on a professional stage for an audience to enjoy.
Congratulations once again to the winners, as we look forward to seeing your next plays!
Thank you to the wonderful White Bear Theatre for partnering with us on Just Write!