Review: Short Play Festival, Little Theatre, Belper

A rustic upstairs bar room, gentle fairy lights and heavy rain set a cosy scene to entice the audience with the topic of rumours at this year’s Short Play Festival.

The Little Theatre in the Old Kings Head pub gave the people of Belper an evening of six slickly written plays, most based on real encounters that the writers have experienced.

With minimal props and costumes, local actors bought to life these humorous yet thought provoking pieces. The young people from Captive Audience Community Theatre kicked off the night with a piece entitled ‘One Simple Mistake’.

They had co- developed this piece with writer Larry Waller about the repercussions of teenage sex between a 15 year old girl and 16 year old boy. Through the development stage of this piece they had expertly altered the language and characters to make realistic portrayals of teenager’s reactions to this situation. The actors made excellent use of the small space they were provided with by using physical theatre to show the passing of time and various locations within the story.

There are two special mentions to give out for their performances on the night which go to Mik Horvath and Lou Jenkins for their energetic and wonderful characterisations of Richard Layton’s well-crafted piece entitled ‘Bunny and Claude’.  With the use of two chairs, an imaginary steering wheel and some Scouse accents; Mik and Lou took us along for a thrilling ride to a movie set to talk about their relationship.

Taking us to the other end of the emotional spectrum were John Briscoe, Martin Weston, Rodger Whiting, Viv Crowther and Shelia Kay Sly who were all dignified in their roles in Nina Mitchell’s ‘Last Breath’and John Taylor’s ‘Last Bus’.Both of these plays provided a heart-warming and sympathetic look on the people who have passed on to the other side; from the military man to the average woman who trips over the cat.

‘Scuttlebutt’ by Mary Hennessy and ‘Hot Air’ written and performed by Jane Wilton, delighted us with very fine examples of the loveable gossipy woman.  Viv Crowther was very amusing as the lightly scolding, curtain twitching neighbour; while Jane sprang into her pink dressing gown to give us an insightful monologue as to why shewas all alone in a spa on Christmas day.

The Short Play Festival hasn’t been active with Belper Arts Festival for the last few years, so it was no surprise to see a packed room, eager for its return. The pieces shown are hopefully going to be polished and ready for events and performances happening later on this year; so keep your eyes open!

Well done to all the actors, writers and Sue Reaney and George Gunby the organisers for putting on an excellent show. The resident’s of Belper and beyond hope to see you again next year!

Review by Alexandra Smith