The Pensive Federation has brought a special edition of their new writing showcase to the Camden Fringe with ‘Re- written’. The brains behind The Pen Fed have given four different writers Caro Dixey, Jo Pockett, Serena Haywood and Sarah Pitard the chance to rewrite a 3 page script and turn it into a 15 minute play all directed by Cat Robey from the Paradigm Theatre Co. The original script ‘hinted at the way our past makes us who we are, the need to connect in the present and the desire to have a meaningful future.’ The result is a show which flows organically making it yet again a production that is cohesive and entertaining.
The first play to lead proceedings was ‘I’m Okay, Are You?’ by Jo Pockett about a man who can’t quite shake his love for a man who’s most definitely moved on. As in every play, there is a silver lunch box present and contains a gift for his friend played by Laura Kim who is trying desperately to console her love sick friend. The dialogue was quite funny and actor Neil J. Byden played it up landing the audience in the palm of his hand where it would stay for the rest the show. I found the actors a bit shaky during this round but this would subside by the arrival of the second play.
The second play was indeed ‘Done’ by Caro Dixey which took a completely different turn from the previous one and had a more morbid vibe. This time a man gives a woman some pills in order to aid her in committing suicide so she won’t have to suffer the long drawn-out death she will inevitably have to endure due to a fatal illness she has contracted. This man has given her the possibilitiy of avoiding all of that so it will be painless both for her and for her family who won’t have to suffer watching her fall apart in from of them. It is quite a touching piece and Laura Kim truly shines in this piece. When the realisation that she is going to die within minute settles in , her whole body shook leaving the room absolutely quiet. It was a poignant piece and her interactions with Byden became much softer which was a stark contrast to the previous more laid-back relationship potryayed through a more familiar banter between two old friends about lost loves.
The third play ‘Direct Action’ by Serena Haywood lifted the mood with her play about two geeky animal protection crusaders who are ready to risk all in order to save some animals from cruel animal testing. Only the girl’s intentions for this mission was not to break the animals free but to win over her partner in crime’s heart. This play was brilliantly constructed and both Byden and Kim make a great team here . Their skills as strong character actors really shined as they managed to create in just 15 minutes characters who were quirky and lively. The dialogue was also punchy and witty.
The last was ‘The Beginnings of Love’ by Sarah Pitard which somehow brought the whole hour back full circle with her story of another person much like Pocketta’s desperate man in hopeless love but this time it’s Kim’s character who can’t seem to let go of a man who’s promised her the world but who we all know is never going to leave his wife. She’s written him a letter to put it all to an end meanwhile there is Byden’s character who is there to pick up the pieces for her. A beautiful Latin word for a strong desire,Concupiscence, is slipped into the conversation by him which leads us to wonder what his true feelings are here. It is a sweet piece with a lot to be read between the lines and Byden plays the stereotypical English man with the stuff upper lip with great comedic flair and irony.
The Pen Fed have found a formula for putting together new writing showcases which works. I was stoked to see that they were putting together another evening at the Camden Fringe. It makes a perfect fit for a festival with such a diverse programme in the works. On until the 23rd of August at the Tristan Bates Theatre near Covent Garden.
To find out more about the Pen Fed: http://pensivefederation.com/ For more on the Camden Fringe http://camdenfringe.com/