The Script Sessions have presented yet another evening of new writing this time in collaboration with John Burgess who co-founded the National Studio Theatre and was Head of New Writing at the National from 1989-1994. This evening showcases 6 of his past students’ short plays and was also developed with the Duckdown Theatre company to bring audiences an inspiring evening of new theatre to the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park.
The plays on stage were:
‘Ashes’ by Clare Whitehead about a young school girl named Krystal (Jennie Eggleton) who pushes the boundaries with her much older teacher , Martin (James Groom) who almost jeopardizes his domestic bliss to indulge in Krystal’s provocations.
‘The Caravan’ by Elizabeth Adlington which deals with a married couple Helen (Emma Britton) and Paul ( Stephen Myott-Meadows) who are forced to move into a mobile home as Paul struggles to find a steady job and subsequently also to hold down his family.
‘Hole In My Heart’ by Chris Evans where a rent boy Lucas (Conor Kennedy) finds himself in a penthouse apartment with a wealthy and very needy businessman (David Fernandez).
‘Home Duty’ by Sally Lewis and Craig Murray is a 30 minute play about Diana (Heather Bleasdale) a 40 something who is dealing with a divorce, teenagers and her father’s debilitating forgetfulness played by David Shackleton.
‘Kate and James’ by Loulou Stirrup about a very young teenage couple who need to grow up fast when they are faced with some real world problems played by Katherine Rodden and Theo Ancient.
‘The Kindgom Of Me‘ by Denise Keane is a 30 minute play about Thomas played by Ayo Aloba and his horrific past which haunts the dreams and day to day reality of Rae played by Kathryn O’Reilly. Only Rae can hear the screams in her head while her husband played by Stephen Myott Meadows lives with her completely perplexed by what she is going through as he can hear nothing at all. Both of these characters , Tom and Rae, are living a kind of parallel story even if they couldn’t be more different or further apart from each other.
I felt the momentum of the evening really picked up when we got to Adlington’s piece. It is really a straight-forward story: man loses his job , his home and consequently his pride, but it is the riveting ending which really had us all in shock. It was an intense few minutes and played wonderfully by Stephen Myott-Meadows. Another highlight for me was ‘Home Duty’ which dealt really sensitively with the struggle people face when their parents grow old. The decision to put your beloved mother or father in a nursing home for example can be extremely difficult to take. I thought Bleasdale ‘s performance as Diana was really touching especially when she tries so hard to be affectionate with her father but can’t quite get there. It was a nuanced performance and the play deals with a subject matter we don’t see so often on stage. Sarah Meadows also did a nice job directing this two-hander and had Shackleton and Bleasdale have just the right body language and movements to convey their mental states.
I was also intrigued by the final play by Keane. The idea of this woman who hears this incessant banging and leads a parallel life with someone who is a world apart from her made for an interesting narrative. Alice Hamilton who directed the piece had quite a task as she had to move two different casts in synch without making it look sloppy or clunky. I think she succeeded.
I am a huge fan of this kind of platform which lets an audience get a taste of a diverse group of writers and gives an evening out at the theatre a bit of variety. Duckdown Theatre Company are interested in also developing emerging writers through their workshops and collaborations which is something that I am sure many new playwrights in this city are looking for.
For more information on Duckdown Theatre and The Script Sessions: