Live Theatre’s latest production 10 minutes to… Light the Fuse showcased five short plays from new playwrights, all of which were created after a single weekend of rehearsals.
Tim Jones’s Last of the Artisans launched us straight into action with two men stuck on a ledge looking down to the street below. Both characters were fleshed out and believable; only a few lines felt overstated and sacrificed characterisation in order to drive the plot forward. The play was part thriller, part comedy, with laughter from the audience temporarily alleviating the building tension only for the characters to reveal the hopelessness of their situation. The piece ended with a great cliff-hanger climax.
Next was John Johnson and the Liberal Luddite by Jamie Morren. A less dramatic, more thoughtful play which opens as a man wakes to find his mobile phone fused to his hand. This sparks an argument between the man and his girlfriend where a lot of built up resentment surfaces as they criticise each other’s character flaws. Through this medium Morren tackles the relationship between artists and non-artists and offers some freshness to the clichéd idea of incompatibility between the two. The actor and actress performed well and kept the argument reigned in, so it didn’t feel melodramatic.
Play three: A Moment in the Air by Tom Powell. Similar to John Johnson and the Liberal Luddite this was based around a number of characters reacting to a surreal situation in which a woman tripped and fell upwards, vanishing through the sky. This play was unique for it had a total of three scenes; opening with an interview and finishing with a couple discussing the event. The middle scene, a monologue from the girl who flew felt unnecessary and brought down the pace of the play; however the final scene somewhat recovered this, as the couple were interesting characters and spoke in a funny way, contrasting to the piece’s dark, mysterious ending.
Do Heroes Dream of Electric Tweets by Chris Wallace and Phil Hodgson followed. This was by far the most interesting interpretation of the theme “light the fuse”. Superhero sidekick “Fusion” wanted to increase her public presence through social media and so she visited a somewhat pushy marketing team. On paper this sounds strange and the production embraced this bizarreness: Fusion walked around in the most uncoordinated, colourful outfit of the night, while the marketing team fell at her feet one second only to show her Twitter-hate the next. Wallace and Hodgson tackled relevant issues today, such as gender inequality, data manipulation, and the brutality of internet trolling. These are grim topics but the play dealt with these in a hilarious, satirical way and so it was definitely my favourite play of the night.
The final piece was the only one with an actual fuse: a firework. In What She Would have Wanted by Ian McLaughlin two friends talked and drank their way through the send-off of a deceased friend, whose ash was a firework. This piece was full of puns and jokes which had the audience sometimes laughing with and other times laughing at the characters who quickly drank their way into inebriation. This play really showed how sometimes less is more: the premise was simple, but the dialogue and delivery was created a thought provoking play which examined how people cope in different ways, and how alcohol is such a crutch within the society in which we live in.
I enjoyed the night and all 5 playwrights show huge potential, especially given what they achieved within the crazy time limit. Live Theatre’s 10 minutes to… evenings are invaluable to new writers, as it can be incredibly difficult, as a writer starting out, to get your work shown. The variation of the night makes it worth attending, and I will be going to the next 10 minutes to… whatever the theme is.
I’ll be back in a weeks’ time with a review of The Bogus Woman. In the meantime I hope the adrenaline from the production keeps the playwrights writing!
By Oisin Power