Presented by Stay on the Bus Productions
Pros: Some terrific script-writing, lovely acting and lots of laughs.
Cons: The venue was over-crowded and unbearably hot, though this was most likely due to it being a busy press night.
Our Verdict: The format of bite size drama works as a terrific alternative to a full-length play. Open Doors is an evening filled with big laughs, strong performances and great writing.
Much as I love plays (and I do!), it’s so nice to see an evening of short, snappy sketches designed to entertain the audience at the highest level possible in a short space of time. In Open Doors
, Stay on the Bus Productions
provide us with an evening of snappy dialogue, sharp insights and lots of fun.
The first scene, entitled Just Desserts, is set in a restaurant with a bickering couple perched at a round table, both of them scowling at their menus. Eva Savage plays Anna, who suspects her husband Charles (Jonathan Mulquin) of cheating on her with another woman. The dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny with hilarious performances from Savage, Mulquin and an adorable Louisa Quinn who plays the unfortunate waitress who has to deal with them. Writer David Payne creates an effective high-comedy piece which gets the evening off to a great start.
Artificial Happiness is a short piece about depression, focusing on a young couple who have a baby before they are both ready. Carly Bedford is terrific as a woman who is forced into motherhood before she knows what she really wants, and Dixon Weiner is equally compelling as her supportive yet struggling partner. Marilii Saar is also fascinating as she addresses the audience on the often taboo subject of mental illness. This scene creates a sharp contrast with the previous one and features top writing from Emma Louise Quixely and inspired direction from Stuart Watson.
One of the main highlights of the evening is a scene entitled Fling Story, written by the very talented Tom Jensen. The dialogue is unbelievably clever and the comedy terrifically nuanced. The story of a married man and his mistress are brought to life by two excellent performers – Karen Lucinda Lloyd and Richard Chris Polick. Excellent direction from Sharon Burrell makes this show so enjoyable I was left wanting more.
Next up was a scene about a young couple, where the guy Joe has not quite grown up yet. He still has all of his old Star Wars and Transformer toys and while his girlfiend Ash (Emily Altneu) is fine with his attachment to childhood memorabilia to begin with, she soon grows tired of his obsessing. The scene is well-written by Nick Cheesman and nicely directed by Poppy Rowley.
Breaded Butler is the story of an elderly gentleman who is losing his touch with reality while his suffering wife Dorothy tries to cope with his changing behaviour. The scene features strong writing from James Bailey and good direction from Jimmy Walters. It also features some very nice performances from Rosalind Adler and Nigel Paul Foulds. The decision to interchange scenes of high-comedy with more tragic scenes creates a lovely dynamic in the evening’s entertainment.
The show ends with a deeply touching scene about Alzheimer’s called With A Clock in Mind by Hannah Puddefoot. This was the highlight of the show for me, with its exceptional writing and superb direction. Jean Apps is the star of the evening, as far as I’m concerned with her note-perfect portrayal of a woman trapped inside her own mind, surrounded by long lost, hazy memories. She is on a bus journey with her daughter (a terrific performance from Victoria Walsh) as they make their way to Essex, where Annie will stay in a home. Rebecca Bailey plays a younger version of Annie who recounts her memories as the bus journey continues. All of the actors in this scene are exceptional and it is a perfect way to round off the show.
All in all, this is a great way to spend an evening. There were several intervals, which was a great idea as we all got to chat about the different scenes we’d just seen before moving onto the next ones. Stay on the Bus Productions are a terrific company with a bright future and I look forwards to seeing more from them.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below!