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The Significant Other Festival, Park Theatre

Presented by The Pensive Federation
Pros: An excellent short-play challenge with great results
Cons: A couple of noticeably weaker pieces within the 10 plays.
Our Verdict: An overall enjoyable evening of short plays, with the added fun of a competitive spirit and participation from the audience as well.
Courtesy of The Pensive Federation

I’ve seen a lot of short plays in the past month or so, but The Pensive Federation’s Significant Other Festival has far and away been my favourite. The festival had a delightful little quirk to it, unique from the other collections of short play we’ve reviewed in the past few weeks. The format was a ten-day challenge; 10 writers were given the theme of ‘significant other’, along with a style genre and asked to write a ten-minute play in response within five days. Finished scripts were then given to directors and actors to prepare a production within five days. Each of the ten pieces was uniquely turned out, but in responding to a similar theme, the evening possessed a sense of unity. The audience was asked to deduce which play responds to which genre, making it a more interactive production. 

Produced by the same company who gave us The Collective Project back in October, the plays range from stories of alien invasions, to football matches, to supermarket heists, and each playwright and actor-director company gives a unique spin to the theme. Among some favorite pieces were Will Howells’ film noir inspired Wherever I Lay My Hat, Mike Carter’s hilarious tribute to musicals, A Month and Five Days, and Camilla Whitehill’s quirky Icebergs.
While overall the plays were surprisingly successful given the short amount of production time, some struggled to hit the mark. Nick Myles’ Rip it to Shreds made little sense, and in ten minutes attempted to jump between present and flashback with no lighting changes or clear transition. This made an already confusing script even harder to track of. I also felt that Jo Pocket’s Something So Good lacked depth and development in comparison to many of the other pieces.
It was great fun to work out which play belonged to which genre, and to see recurring props used in different ways in each. These elements engaged the audience and gave the evening a sense of unity and the result was really incredible! It was fantastic to see what theatre artists can do in such a short amount of time, and the challenge gave a genuine sense of connection to what might have otherwise been a discombobulated evening of unrelated short pieces, which I always feel makes short play nights easier to handle and definitely easier to consider in terms of a review.
Additionally, the festival offered a varied and interesting response to the commonly used phrase ‘significant other,’ and provided a fascinating survey of modern relationships. The collection of plays does a good job of encouraging audiences to examine their own relationships without pounding us with any one message or moral. On top of all this, the new Park Theatre provides a fantastic venue. Modern and fresh and complete with a second story bar with a great view, it’s a fantastic place to spend an evening no matter what you see!
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!
The Significant Other Festival has completed its run at The Park Theatre.
For further information on upcoming events from The Pensive Federation visit: http://pensivefederation.com/productions/

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