Who Dares Writes

Fri 15th February 2013

reviews

Rose Bonsier

at 10:07 on 16th Feb 2013

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This much anticipated collaborative showcase between the drama societies that are DramSoc and Spotlights’ has developed a reputation in previous years for some fantastically witty and off-the-wall writing. So this year’s Who Dares Writes certainly had a lot to live up to, and it did so remarkably well. Whilst it’s fair to say that some of the twelve pieces were better than others, there wasn’t a bad one amongst the bunch and the acting, from a cast which includes many well-known Bristol faces, was top notch. All the performances were pretty much faultless in their characterization and delivery of lines, an amazing feat considering that the actors and directors have had relatively little time to pull it all together and many of them are heavily involved in other projects.

The theme 'Marmite: love, hate and other vitamins' is in itself original and clever, but such a tight brief unfortunately led to some scripts feeling a bit similar. Nevertheless the writers, many of whom are already big names in Bristol student theatre, nearly all came up with something quirky and amusing that mainly revolved in some way around loved up or not so loved up couples. Ideas ranged from lovers waiting for the end of the world to the sort of couples you find in Starbucks to a pair who’d woken up together after a one night stand. There were some brilliantly funny moments, and one of the best pieces for pure hilarity was Tabitha Dalton’s I Heart Houston. Performed by Hannah Horan and Bryher Flanders (who, it should be noted, make a fabulous comedy duo) the piece centered on a woman going through a particularly devastating break up - her other half had gone off with a yoga teacher and taken the TV for God’s sake – and her Whitney obsessed friend who tries to shake her out of it.

The most serious piece of the night and to my mind one of the best written in terms of dramatic impact was Ragevan Vasan’s Next Time, Think. The scenario revolved around a teacher who had inadvertently implied that he was racially discriminating against students and keeping them back for detention because they were Asian. The scene itself played out the consequences that followed, and credit must be given to the cast (Simon Fraser, Suzi Simms and Lauren Orrock) for maintaining real stress and tension throughout.

Two other pieces which really struck me were Sid Sigar’s Pride and Vanessa Kissule’s Immortal. The first is set in a pub where soldier Noah (Matthew Sarre) is having a last drink with his mates before he’s sent off to war. Beneath the bravado he projects around Gaz and Robbie (Tom Grant and Jack London), we see in his conversation with socially awkward friend Will (Nathan Evans) that his decision to join the army has really been driven by frustration because he can see no other way to succeed in his life. He takes Will’s well-meaning but clueless encouragement as charity, revealing bitterness that Will has done so well in life and believing his success to be down to his privileged start. The second features a young girl with the misled belief that taking vitamins will make her sick mum better, and Eliot Salt and Ollie Feather perfectly played out the mix of comic tragedy that makes Kissule’s writing so moving.

A very ingenious interlude came just before the interval in the form of a surprise piece that was performed behind the lighting desk at the back of the theatre. It was due to this realism as well as some wonderfully deadpan acting that the piece really worked, making a very astute observation about what really goes on behind the scenes in a theatre. As this piece was missed off the programme I am yet to discover who wrote and directed it – whoever they are, hats off to them.

Unfortunately this cracking show is only running for two nights, so if you can possibly get down to the Union this evening then do – I’ve told you what I think, but only you can decide if you love it or hate it.

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