Second Date Material [by Guest Reviewers Lucy Noonan and Tim George]
Theatre Scenes sent reviewers along to the first two nights of One Night Stand at The Basement – a 24 hour play festival where 4 teams get just 24 hours to write, direct and stage a 10 minute play. Here are their verdicts. First up Lucy Noonan with night one:
24 hours before showtime the teams were told they had to incorporate a character, “someone who is definitely in touch with their feelings”, a line of dialogue – “It was a bluish-greenish colour”, and they each given their own theme. From there, they could go wild. tThe festival was hosted by the hilarious Chris Parker, who kept the night light and fun for both the actors and the audience. The night as a whole was fantastic and such a great opportunity to see what established and new talent can accomplish when pushed to the extremes.
Team 1 – Waterbirth / Theme: The Fall / Title: Prankster
With a simple plot and only three characters, team “Waterbirth” nailed exactly what a 10minute play should be. Though it started awkwardly and I was a little unsure of where it was going, the actors (Tom Mannion, Lana Walters and Kermath) quickly settled in and the play took off. What starts as an ordinary day in the office with the annoying office prankster up to his usual tricks, takes a dark turn when his colleagues attempt to teach him a lesson. The actors bounced off each other with brilliant ease, especially for a play that didn’t exist 24 hours earlier. We were told that the teams were only given one tech rehearsal each, which is unbelievable considering the timing that the actors and crew needed to pull off the piece. The death scenes, where everything goes wrong in their plan for revenge, the lighting and sound was absolutely spot on and better than some plays I’ve seen who have rehearsed for months. Their use of the mandatory line was incorporated simply and it completely made sense, which I would definitely give them points for. Overall a highly enjoyable and polished play.
Team 2 – The Forgotten Whores of Brian Tamaki / Theme: Underdog / Title: Glamazon Salon
“The Forgotten Whores of Brian Tamaki” won two awards for “Glamazon Salon” – most disgusting content and best use of the line (which should probably be the same award since their use of the line referred to Sharon’s shit after too much Midori). The team definitely had the best use of set and media but other than that I struggled to enjoy it. The play elicited a lot of laughs from the audience but it seemed to rely on offensive humour and felt like I was watching a kiwi version of Family Guy ( i.e. let’s offend everyone because it’s ironic and funny). To be honest I’m not even sure what the plot was – it was set in a salon in one of New Zealand’s hick towns and from there went on to make a “jizz” joke once every 2 minutes. I was left disappointed and uncomfortable by the end.
Team 3 – I Think I’m Allergic to Cantaloupe / Theme: The other / Title: Curiosity
The simple humour that team “I Think I’m Allergic to Cantaloupe” started with was a welcome relief after Glamazon Salon. Unfortunately, though the play had a lot of promise, the actors/writers fell into the trap of creating caricatures and it quickly lost momentum. The play relied on the intrigue of what is in a box left on the desk of a quiet woman who is continuously being prevented from opening said box. It was obvious what they were aiming for with the piece and at times they almost got there, but in the end it just didn’t. The characters became annoying and the play didn’t flow leaving me wondering when the play would end rather than what was in the box. However, it did win a well-deserved medal for best one-liner – “I like my coffee like I like my women – in a cup”.
Team 4 – Team / Theme: Rejection / Title: Chicken Shit
The obvious winner of the night was team “Team” who received best actor, best character and best show for “Chicken Shit”. Who would’ve thought that the best play would go to a musical about Chickens who can no longer lay eggs? The play was based around Darlene Mohekey’s character who has laid her first egg in years and about the promise and hope that one egg holds. Darlene (who won best actress) was phenomenal in the role, taking you on a whole journey in the space of 10 minutes and while we were all in hysterics, we all felt for her. Her plight is perfectly punctuated by the supporting characters that brought humour – intelligent, uncomfortable and crude to the piece. It left me with one question – when can I buy tickets to the full-length show?
And Tim George with Night Two:
Tension is an interesting concept when it comes to theatre – on the hand, there is the tension the characters create onstage. On the other hand, there is the tension of watching a live performance where, potentially, anything can happen. A flubbed line, a missed cue, or a heckler in the audience – there is an excitement to live performance which, in many ways, is more immediate to the audience than whatever emotional response the actors are trying to elicit.
As a concept, One Night Stand takes this tension and makes it a part of the show. The format resembles the 48 hour film festival in that each team is given a character, a line of dialogue and a theme. The potential for disaster is clear, as is the potential for the kind of stream-of-consciousness nonsense dreamed up at the last minute by people trying to beat the deadline.
By and large, last night’s edition of the show can be judged a resounding success — all the shows appeared to have been well-rehearsed, and most of the stories made more than a little sense.
Beginning with a surreal, inane piece called “Wheelchair” in which two crazies get lost in a magical wood inhabited by various mystical creatures, the teams run the gamut from outright farce to experimental drama.
There is a very poignant piece called ‘The life of a Sausage’ in which three sausages on a grill try to deal with the brevity of their own existence. Special kudos to the actor who played ‘Bratwurst’ as an overly blunt German philosopher.
There is a rather glorious sketch in which a young man, still dealing with the trauma of his love’s death, tries to hold himself together for a date. This was performed by two actors, one of whom plays his lady-killer bestie and his date. Owing to time constraints, his costume changes were hilariously half-assed and led to the best moment of the night, in which (as the date) he lost balance while navigating a pair of stacked heels worthy of Kim Jong-Il.
‘Fondue Fondon’t’ begins with a woman who looks disconcertingly like Ellen Page proudly screaming to everyone that she has passed a particular sexual milestone. A short, hilarious piece in which four young women find their sleepover interrupted by one of the girls’ drunken brothers. This interruption acts as the catalyst for each character to tell a story or make a confession. Backed by inspired use of back-projected social media and photographs, and boasting a sublime exercise in comic drunkeness, this was the most rowdy and entertaining piece of the night.
‘Inside the Mouth’ is the night’s centrepiece – a trio of lost souls share interweaving monologues of loss and pain. As each character takes over, the sense of despair escalates. All three characters are on a downward spiral and the circular, tag-team approach to the monologue is a brilliant way of creating this sense of momentum. Quite rightly, the judges made this strong piece the show of the night — it was certainly the strongest, and the one most deserving of expansion.
All in all, One Night Stand, at least last night’s edition, was fantastic. The only criticism I could make is that the season did not go longer. Truly exceptional.
One Night Stand plays at The Basement until 7 March. Details see The Basement.
Lucy Noonan has studied acting in New York at American Academy of Dramatic Arts and T. Schreiber Studio and Theatre, she has acted and directed shows in New York, Ireland and New Zealand.