Pros: The emotional connection formed between the characters in such a short space of time is something I wasn’t convinced was possible before seeing this show.
Cons: One particular play stood out for me as being less accomplished than the rest, however this didn’t impact on my overall experience of the festival, especially as each play is only ten minutes long.
At the prospect of seeing The Significant Other Festival: Undercover I have to admit I was skeptical. Theatre company The Pensive Federation asked ten writers to create a ten-minute play in five days, based of the theme of the ‘significant other’. Scripts were then handed over to a director and a company of two actors who were given five days to stage the play. I wasn’t convinced that a series of ten-minute plays could engage me, or even provide enough of a story to make me feel compassion for its characters.
Despite my cynicism I was pleasantly surprised. Each play had a heart and relatable characters that I felt a connection with even in such a short space of time. There were some I enjoyed more than others, as to be expected. Some of the plays I could imagine being much longer, and for a few ten minutes was just the right amount of time. But overall every play presented a narrative that engaged me.
The Pensive Federation is inspired by relationships and the connections we make with the people around us. All the plays in the festival explore this theme, from the everyday relationships we all experience to the truly extraordinary ones that only a mere few of us are lucky enough to encounter. Whatever your life experience I think that as an audience member you would find at least one of these twenty characters or situations relatable.
My personal favourites were the plays that produced a sudden surprise at the end, or moments that made my heart swell, and my mouth gasp. I particularly enjoyed the beautifully written tale of two long lost siblings reunited through a request in their deceased Nan’s will.
The set was simple, just a bed, with the cast of two bringing props on for each individual play. The scene changes were smooth; it was mainly down to the skill of the actors that the audience was transported to different places. I particularly liked the use of music as after each play we heard a new song to complement the unique drama. Then the same theme music was played as the next play was set up. This gave the whole evening a sense of continuity that wasn’t broken despite the range of stories and characters.
This festival is brilliant! I never expected myself to become so emotionally involved in plays that only lasted ten minutes; I was even moved to tears at one point. While there are flaws in the production, and I have to admit there was one play that I just didn’t get, overall this is a fantastic study of different human relationships.
Whether with romantic partners or old friends, The Pensive Federation have captured the humanity and reality of relationships near perfectly in this production.
Authors: Isla Gray, Yasmine Lever, Rachel Goth, Andrew Curtis, Emily Holyoake, German Munoz, Alan Flanigan, Martin Malcolm, Sherhan Linghan, Christina Barret-Jones
Directors: Kim Burnett, Tom Drayton, Dilek Latif, Phil Cross, Penny Faith, Chris Lawson, Guleraana Mir, Jessica Radcliffe, Chloe Mashiter, Lizzie Quinn
Producers: The Pensive Federation, Neil J. Byden, Serena Haywood and Laura Kim
Booking Until: 5 July 2014
Box Office: 020 7240 6283
Booking Link: http://tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/whats-on/significant-other-festival-2014-undercover