On Wednesday, May 27, Cumbernauld Theatre premiered the winning entries in the Scotland Short Play Awards.
The opener was Morven by Emily Ashton, which was directed by the theatre’s own Tony Cownie.
This piece is based around some sort of interview of a woman who has experienced a tragedy – as it unfolds her emotional state deteriorates.
To showcase this first was a risky decision, particularly as the audience was almost certainly unaware of the content of the entire showcase and Nicola Roy deserved praise as she kept her performance in full flow even as a few audience members, clearly shocked by her character’s venomous language, walked out.
However those who stayed were left with an effective portrayal of a woman’s decline into possible madness, and allowed to draw their own conclusions as to what exactly had happened to her.
The next piece in the quartet was Romance, a highly relatable comic portrayal of the awkwardness of teens coping with their dawning sexuality.
Writer Ross Dunsmore and director Amanda Gaughan delivered a highly contemporary take on a well-worn story, with Joanne Thomson and Cristian Ortega as the school-uniformed lovers who sneak into an 18-certificate French movie and come to terms with the amplifying effect of modern technology on social pressures.
Third up was It Never Ends, written by Cameron Forbes. This is a story of a booze-and-drug fuelled nightclub one night stand between characters portrayed by Jenny Hulse and John Scougal, under the direction of Becky Hope Palmer.
Following hot on the heels of the comedy before it, this initially feels like it is in the same vein but about people of a slightly later age – but the consequences are reflected in the title of this play and in the Q&A session following the showcase a valid point was raised that this piece could well be used in an educational context regarding the lesser-discussed pitfalls of casual sex.
The showcase concluded with Potterrow, written by Martin McCormick, directed by Emma Reutinger and apparently based around a true incident which happened in Edinburgh.
Gavin Jon Wright performed as a policeman (he tells us) with an unsual fixation on dog mess and an elderly woman living in the eponymous street.
Shortly before the performance Wright laid out a set of footprint tiles on the stage, similar to a diagram of dance steps – he gradually works his way down these conducting a combination of self-narration and self-dialogue as the pieces nears its disturbing conclusion.
The sum total of the evening was very much a “mystery box” of self-contained stories. Exciting, varied and sometimes shocking, this showcase proves short plays are a format deserving greater attention.
The showcase will also be performed tonight (Thursday, May 28) at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. The performance begins at 7pm, tickets are £6/£4 and can be booked on 0131 228 1404.