Johnny Did Not Come Marching Home, by Sharon M. Andrews, Directed by Tom Skitt
Just Desserts, by Will Howells, Directed by Nathaniel Francis
Skeleton, by David Payne, Directed by Kuba Drewa
Cold Calling, by Suzette Coon, Directed by Tessa Hart
Hamlet in Hiding, by Rich Rubin, Directed by Dominic Danson
Pros: A great survey of new works that showcase some truly blossoming talent.
Cons: Not all the pieces are well-fleshed out, and some still require a lot of work.
Our Verdict: A great opportunity for new work to be showcased and experimented with. Definitely worth checking out for theatre-goers interested in the page to stage process.
The Bread and Roses Theatre Company
routinely hosts The Platform
events offering evenings of short new works, allowing budding writers, directors, and actors to put their work in front of an audience. This particular workshop showcased five short plays from different writers, directors, and casts. The diversity was great, and there were a lot of developing ideas, which will no doubt benefit from audience exposure. While I found some of the pieces more difficult to get through than others, by the time I left I felt confident that the whole evening had been incredibly worthwhile and that I’d be happy to visit the Bread and Roses for another Platform
workshop in the future.
The sequence of plays started with its weakest piece, a clichéd and banal portrait of a conflict between two brothers after the younger, Clyde returns gloriously from war while his elder brother, Johnny, suffers humiliation and insecurity for having not joined the armed forces. The problem is manifested in Clyde’s affair with Johnny’s girlfriend, Judy. It’s a short piece ad failed to find depth or individuality among these sweeping themes that have dominated films, plays, and novels forever. The archetypal elements had potential, but simply didn’t manage to create a believable or impassioned story this time around so that the whole thing felt a bit forced. The inconsistent and generic southern accents attempted by the performers didn’t do much for the sincerity of the piece, although I might be a little pickier than some here, having grown up in a Southern American family!
Johnny Did Not Come Marching Home was followed by the delightfully more entertaining Just Desserts about the trials and tribulations of an ‘After Picture’ dieter. The monologue features the bubbly Joanna Greaves as she documents her losses – weight and otherwise. Will Howell’s prose is funny, clever, and thoughtful, offering a subtle but thought-provoking view on how we think about our bodies and our lives.
Just Desserts transitioned smoothly into David Payne’s Skeleton, about a mother working hard to confront her daughter’s eating disorder. Payne handles the conflict with skill, incorporating humour, fear, and sentimentality in all the right doses. Of particular relish in his piece are the hilarious and truthful exchanges between Claire and Gill. Here, Payne captures the infuriatingly paradoxical mother-daughter relationship to a tee, making his play relatable and interesting.
What followed was the funny but a bit too predictable farce, Cold Calling, which depicted a distraught telemarketer showing up at an uninterested customer’s home after aggravating her on the phone. While the script itself was a bit more heavy-handed than I would have liked, Katie Richmond shone as the anxiety-ridden sales girl. Her comic timing and quirky demeanour kept me watching.
Finally, the sequence of plays circled back, ending strangely close to where it began, with a clichéd and tiresome set-up that lacked some much needed originality. The play revolved around some dodgy robbers doing a post-heist money count in an abandoned theatre. Though Hamlet in Hiding has its moments, it relied largely upon the dynamic between the half-brained Denny and silver-tongued Reg to move the script along. The comedy worked in places, but the stakes, while stated, didn’t seem remotely urgent and kept the play from really going anywhere.
It was a night of up and downs, but that’s what makes presentation of new works so much fun; as an audience you are aware you’re watching a work in progress, and you get to be in on the game a little bit – it’s fun, it’s inexpensive and it’s interesting to watch something brand new in the early stages of its development. The Platform was a great experience for me, and one I’d like to check out again.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!
Platform is no longer currently running at the Bread and Roses Pub.