25 February 2013

Actors and Writers London Showcase

Going to small theatres regularly means getting to meet a few actors and through one of them I stumbled upon Actors & Writers London (AWL) and found myself at one of their events.

This was held in the upper bar of the Polish Centre in Hammersmith which was another attraction for me. I had only been there once before, for a Slovak Ball (!), and was glad to have the chance to go back. The time before the AWL event was spent on potato pancakes with spinach and a bottle of Tyskie.

The event itself, of which I knew little beforehand, was a semi-stages semi-read performance of seven short plays. In each case the authors were looking for feedback and in some they were asking if it was worth completing a work in progress.

What Crisis? introduced us to two angry young men, that's angry in a football violence way. They migrate in to petty crime with a mix of aggression, poetry and humour. I liked it but thought that some of the humour was forced, and said so in the discussion afterwards.

Climbing gave us an interesting look in to the mind of a vengeful woman. It was a nice idea that was not obvious first bit once we had got it then the story sort of faded.

Some Enchanted Evening was a comedy that had me laughing out loud from the second line. A set of losers meet at a speed dating event where the man had a series of three silly questions that he asked each woman. The first woman was a stern German called Angela, when asked if that is like Merkle she replies that she is not as frivolous. There were many more laughs like that.

Garden Leave took us in to a gentlemen's club where an unemployed senior manager desperate to get back in to work has arranged to meet a friend of a friend of a friend in a position of power. He talks too much to learn that he is talking to the wrong person and that the man was there to meet his wife who is about to leave him. A solid if unspectacular story.

Mother of an Innocent took us back to the birth of Jesus where other mothers who had lost their children to Herod's purge were not that impressed that Jesus had survived. This was far too biblical for me.

China Price started off as a too obvious and too slow look at the impact our consumerism has on the life of workers in Chinese factories. The acting was good though and that maintained interest until the twists came and it became a ghost story, or did it?

Don't Cry for Me ... ended the evening with another ghost story and, like the previous one, it did not start out that way. We started with a clumsy couple on a date and I was expecting something on relationships. Then the man tells us that his mother sitting in the garden is dead and that he killed her. Gripping stuff.

The evening was all very amateurish and by that I mean that it was about enthusiasm and helping each other and professional jealousies were not to be seen.

It was also a lot of fun for me to see the creative process in the early stages and to hear some of the authors' thinking. I suspect that I'll be going back for more.

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