The largest 10-minute play festival in the world, Short+Sweet Sydney knows how to enthrall audiences. Its bite-sized theatrical performances get whittled down to the best of the best — culminating in the Gala Finals weekend. The Plus Ones were on hand the Friday of the final weekend. We were absolutely wowed by the calibre of the writing and the performances.
Started in Newtown in 2002, the Short+Sweet festival is now worldwide — stretching from the Gold Coast to India. Running from February to April, audiences and judges got to see dozens of new plays. The Tom Mann Theatre played host to the whole festival, which was buzzing with excitement when the capacity crowd came to enjoy the top short plays.
The plays ran the gamut from comedies to musicals to drams to contemporary dance. One thing they all had in common: minimal sets. With the exception of radio play The Last Radio Show, with a full-on Foley setup, the props were kept to a minimum. This allowed the superb acting to shine. And shine it did thanks to the masterful setup from Larry Kelly (Lighting Designer), Addie Fowler (Lighting Operator) and Marty Gallagher (Sound Operator).
Speaking of acting, I was pleasantly surprised to see the age range run the gamut. Sure, there were 20-something theatre students galore — but mature individuals abounded. Enough to Wake The Dead (featuring daughters disagreeing after the death of their mother); The Dancing Lessons (a daughter trying to rouse her mother, suffering with dementia, with memorabilia and memories); and The Golden Years (comedy about a long-married and long-suffering English couple on the brink of divorce), all showcasing older actors. It was lovely to see.
Indeed, the entire showcase was fantastic. We were treated to notes of pathos and side-splitting laughter throughout the evening.
Thought-provoking works were To End Where You Began, a performance art dance piece written, directed, and performed by Valentina Buay, going through a person’s life; and Vietnam Zippos, by a Chicago-based writer and directed by Erika Ly, which took us to the Vietnam War.
There were three poignant plays about young people: Quality of Life (about depression), The Eulogy (a young boy and his crush at his funeral); and Butterfly Wings, about another young boy who has a chronic skin disease, masterfully performed by Richard Littlehales).
Comedy-wise is where Short+Sweet really shone. The showcase began with Dummy, about a ventriloquist and his frenemy puppet, that set the tone for the quality of performance of the night. Lucy & Me got the audience guffawing with laughter — Nicholas Angelosanto and his bicycle Lucy were a comedic tour de force, with the perfect ending. Balls Alive! was the hilarious conceit of an air band, with the best physical comedy involving imaginary instruments I’ve ever seen.
My favourites of the night were HMS Headwind and The Golden Years. The former featured a rollicking cast of sailors and a pirate queen — plus amazing songs! It was bold, it was brash, it was hilarious. But by far my top play of the evening was the final one of the night, The Golden Years. Felicity Burke and Duncan Armitage were pitch-perfect as the aforementioned English couple. The script was so tight you had to concentrate on every line; the delivery, more perfect with every minute.
But you want to know who won, don’t you? Without further ado, we present:
The 2018 Short+Sweet Sydney Winners
|Best New Talent Male||Anthony Langford|
|Best New Talent Female||Jessica Phoebe Knox|
|Best Actor Runner Up||Jack Douglas|
|Best Actor||Nicolas Angelosanto|
|Best Actress Runner Up||Lola Bond|
|Best Actress||Valentina Buay|
|Best Script||Enough To Wake The Dead|
|Crew Cut Winner||Balls Alive!|
|Best Director||Steven Tait|
|Overall People’s Choice Winner||To End Where You Began|
|Overall Wildcards Winner||Enough To Wake The Dead|
|Best Production||The Last Radio Show|
The Short+Sweet Gala finals were the perfect way to spend a Friday evening. I came out of the theatre blown away with the sheer talent Short+Sweet uncovered. There’s a 100% chance I will be attending — with loads of friends — next year. I encourage you all to get involved as well.
Congratulations to the cast, crew, directors, and organisers of Short+Sweet 2018!
Co-founder of The Plus Ones, Theresa adores supporting independent theatre.
For more on Short+Sweet, or to get involved as a writer/actor/director/technician, or in any other capacity, visit www.shortandsweet.org.