24 Hour Plays

first_imgIt was always going to be interesting: six of Oxford’s finest young playwrights paired with six directors, randomly assigned to a group of actors and then given twenty-four hours to produce an original piece of theatre, all in the name of charity. The results were varied, both in content and quality. The majority clearly fell vitctim to a conflict between the grandiose ideas of the playwrights and the time constraints imposed by the exercise. The Gingerbread House in particular, while to be commended for its artistic vision, was dull and practically incomprehensible, and surprised everyone by abruptly finishing within ten minutes.The two most enjoyable plays, Alex Christofi’s The Reception and Cathy Thomas’ Who Needs Jesuits? kept it simple. The former centered around three slightly-inebriated bachelors slumped in a forgotten corner at a wedding reception, while Thomas’ delightfully irreverent production began as a stereotypical family breakfast that soon degenerated into bedlam. Both managed to be funny without seeming contrived and featured some excellent one-liners – but the highlight had to be an enthusiastic dance from Jack Farchy wearing nothing but a polka-dot mini dress. Also deserving special mention was Tom Campion’s touching play about the relationship between two cantankerous old men, roles which were played to perfection by Jonny Totman and Peter Clapp. And, as one would expect from any self-respecting playwright hailing from Wadham, there was of course a gratuitous and completely unnecessary reference to Nelson Mandela.While, conceptually, the idea of the 24 Hour Plays pulled all the right strings, in that it tested the creative skill of the playwrights and the initiative of the actors, the productions were, by and large, over-complex and over-ambitious, and as a result unpolished and unclear. In many of the plays the audience was left confused and frustrated, and dare I say it, wishing they had spent the last two hours watching re-runs of The OC. Ultimately, in a production with such unique time constraints as this, simplicity would have been preferable as opposed to trying to make artistic statements at the expense of coherence and clarity.Sarah DaviesDir. VariousKeble O’Reillylast_img read more