The final festival of the year before setting off for the Edinburgh Fringe in August, QMTC put no restrictions upon this festival. Pitchers could submit anything they liked, from new writing to existing plays, and in whatever style they wanted. Thus this brought together an eclectic mix of six performances over one weekend. Here are the highlights of each.
Lions+Tigers+Bears –written and directed by Reece Connolly
I think best describe the style of this play as being “Tim Burton-esque”.Though I personally didn’t quite grasp how the episodes linked completely, I enjoyed the performance nonetheless. Five talented actors multi-roleing a totla of 30 roles must have been no easy feat, but they did so with complete distinctions between characters: from a BBC reporter from the ’30s, to American doctors, detectives, and even Hitler. What I did liked was the musical interludes which drew a lot of laughs for being so odd and physically comedic. Additionally, the projector screen had different drawings with labels of each scene on in particularly vivid colours, helping to set the atmosphere of the play as childlike and playful, as well as representative of the scenes themselves.
Let’s Talk About Billy – written and directed by Stephen Ledesma
A short comedy about murder and avoiding the truth, this was an easy play to watch in comparison to the previously intense performance. The comedy came from the multi-rolling character who had similar names, and the way in which the she characterised each one so differently, but also played them in a way which whimsically connected them in a strange way. The comedy of the piece came from the irony of Billy (a teenage murderer) whose parents are murderers, and the constant ignoring of this situation – being more focused upon the issue of not having any green apples – as well as the many puns inserted to make light of the situation.
Antigone – directed by Franciska Ery
Taking this canonical text and breathing new life to it must have been a challenge, but Ery executed it well and left the audience captivated by this production. The Pinter Studio was transformed, with the audience sitting the opposite side of the studio, with the spiral stairs and balcony being the main focus, and sand on the floor hinting back to the play’s Greek roots.
The play itself was intense, with the blue lighting and eerie soundtrack accompanying the chorus members whispering and chanting with headphones and sunglasses on – adding the modern to the classical.
Contractions – directed by Emily Collins
Set in RR1 – a white performance space – with a traverse set up, with a desk on one side and a chair on the other, this play took the form of a series of interviews between manager and employee, and the controlling nature work can have over us and our private lives. The repetition of the opening lines of each scene “Emma! Come in, sit down, how are you?” showed this monotony, and created an aura of suspense for the audience wondering what the demands would be this time. The space between the two actresses created a tense atmosphere, and the shocking climax almost showed the manager broken, but not quite, and left me personally wanting her to crack completely, rather than stay with her smiley, professional, exterior. I thoroughly enjoyed this performance and the intimacy of its staging, especially as before we entered we got given name tags with our names on, which made me think we might get called up and interviewed ourselves.
The Last Chance – written and directed by Lydia Williams
A short play which centres around a theatre company of five struggling to put on a play, exploring the relationships the members have with each other and what ultimately has driven them to perform, or the things they like to hide when performing. Comedic at times, and incredibly metatheatrical, the play gave the performers the opportunity to showcase their individual talents, such as contemporary dance and singing.
What a Dump! – directed by Roya Eslami
A devised performance based upon Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, this performance absolutely blew me away. It was the longest production of the festival at an hour and a half, and also the most naturalistic, a stray from the QM theatre norms. However, it was the exquisite acting of the two couples, who were square dancing in their relationships with each other, which caught me. I was captivated by their story and the personal issues of the two couples which were carefully teased out throughout the show, and the American accents, according to my American friend sat next to me, were “on point”. The performance needed no projections or gimmicks, or any touch of the experimental. It was magical as it was, and every audience member was silent and entranced by the events of four people, in one room, over the course of a few hours.