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REDfest, Old Red Lion Theatre

New writing festival, various writers and directors

Pros: Great idea overall, very engaging and easy to watch and some very good pieces of new writing.
Cons: Risky, there are some pieces that aren’t so good, and the theatre was too full when we were there!
Our Verdict: A great evening of new writing at a charming venue, well worth a trip for the final week!
Courtesy of the Old Red Lion Theatre
The last time we went to Islington’s favourite pub theatre, the Old Red Lion, it was back before this blog was just a twinkle in our eye. Since then we’re ashamed to say that we’ve neglected it somewhat, possibly because we’re more local to the Finborough these days! Of all the pub theatres I’ve been to, the Old Red Lion remains my favourite; there is a really charming and friendly atmosphere about it which is hard to replicate. On this occasion, we were seeing ‘Group 3’ of the second annual edition of REDfest; six short pieces of new writing crammed into a delightful two-hour evening. 
There are three particularly good things about REDfest. Firstly, the whole notion of staging six new plays from up-and-coming writers in one evening is a good one. It’s risky, because there are almost certainly some plays within the eighteen that are being staged in total that are, shall we say, weaker, than others! However, the second good thing about it is that they are really short – around 10-15 minutes each – so even if you are watching something that makes you want to rip your eyes out, you know the torture isn’t going to last long. The third pro is that it has been programmed cleverly (or it had been for our group) so that you see six very different shows that are from different genres and that address different content. Ours varied from a show about office frustration to a show about a cocaine heist, which made for a very dynamic and engaging evening. 
Group 3 included 55 M. SQ by Daniel Davies, Angleby by Nicholas Blackshaw, Canasta by Nick Myles, Consignment by Nicky Cowan, On Top by Tajinder Singh Hayer and Wake Up Rom Houben by Adam de Ville. The first thing to say is that none of this batch were disastrously bad, but two stood out as being particularly enjoyable (and consequently received the top two spots on my voting ballot – you vote for your favourite four shows out of the six and then the top six from across REDfest go through to the final week). 55 M. SQ was a very clever piece which was brilliantly performed by the cast. The line ‘balconies be gone!’ was particularly memorable, and gave me a fit of girlish giggles. The other particularly good one was Consignment, which was simultaneously disturbing and hilarious, again performed extremely well. 
I don’t see a need to go into any more detail about the shows themselves – you probably won’t see Group 3 now anyway. What’s more important is the whole idea of REDfest, which is certainly a good one that makes for a great way to spend an evening. It’s extremely engaging, it will almost certainly turn up some gems, and it will almost certainly turn up some monstrosities that you will end up looking back on and laughing about. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, the Old Red Lion pub also has a good selection of beer.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments in the section below!

REDfest runs at the Old Red Lion Theatre until 12th May 2012.
Box Office: 0844 412 4307 or book online at http://www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk/

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