Little Pieces of Gold
Staged Reading Sessions
Reviewed – 10th October 2018
“the event has become a kind of deconstructed theatre form, with high quality casts and directors attached to each low budget production”
Writers able to fund their own shows are unlikely to be the most deserving of exposure so Suzette Coon’s talent showcase is invaluable. It’s also a rich experience for audiences. Far from the dour-sounding ‘Reading session’ billed, the event has become a kind of deconstructed theatre form, with high quality casts and directors attached to each low budget production.
The night’s six works, chosen from six hundred, begin with a comedy that dredges laughs from the low wage economy. ‘Sandwiches’ by Clare Reddaway shows life on the sandwich production line, with three tightly written acts squeezing in erotic sandwich fillings, a villain with a whistle played by Nigel Fyfe and a showdown at the industry’s ‘Sarnies’ awards.
Two women also see off an obnoxious male in the second of the night’s comedies, ‘Body Language’ by Sarah Pitard. Stefan Menaul draws howls of recognition as the excruciating, self-obsessed Tom, hitting on Katrina (Amy Reitsma) while she is trying to read up on cancer. Both his monologue and that of the eavesdropping Susan (Meaghan Martin), a cancer survivor, are fluent, funny and fierce.
Most of the plays carry a message about modern life but the exception is ‘Bothy’ by Ben Rogers, a tale of two men taking refuge in the Scottish hills. Callum is a jolly, yet strangely sinister local handyman; Andrew is a claims manager up from Croydon. The economy of the script and the way it keeps the audience guessing as to the motives of Callum display a rare gift of scene-writing, heightened further by the performances and direction. (David Beatty, Adam Mirsky and Imogen Wyatt Corner, respectively).
‘Humane’ follows, by Polly Creed, reviving a forgotten news story about Essex locals who face down riot police to end live exports of animals. Absolved of the need for visual dramatics, this work is liberated by the format, as Georgia Nicholson sits facing the audience, relating her character’s story with obdurate humanity.
Little happens in ‘Becoming’ by Trevor Kaneswaran, just a few quiet moments in the life of Praveen, who rejects his Sri Lankan roots as he slopes home from football and exchanges monosyllables with his Mum like any British teen. Once his uncle arrives Praveen understands more about who he is and takes up cricket. Slow, filmic, even in this basic form, and elevated by Akshay Gulati’s perfectly pitched delivery.
The choice for finale is Chantelle Dusette’s Windrush tale, ‘Where de Mangoes Grow’. A simple but eloquent poem spliced through with a montage of scenes, moments and recordings, yet it conveys an entire era of betrayal. Exquisite performances from all, but Reece Pantry’s slow acceptance of loss is impossibly moving.
Beautifully curated, and with all six plays and their casts giving a glimpse of some eye-catching talents, the ‘Little Pieces of Gold’ enterprise is well-named.
Reviewed by Dominic Gettins
Little Pieces of Gold
Previously reviewed at this venue:
Little Pieces of Gold
24th September 2017
“an important evening in London’s theatrical calendar … long may it reign …”
Established in 2010, Little Pieces of Gold’s new writing nights have staged the plays of almost 400 emerging, established and award winning writers, collaborated with as many directors and even more performers at leading London venues such as Southwark Playhouse, Park Theatre, Old Red Lion and Theatre 503. Thousands of writers have submitted their work through their open submission process and productions garner much industry interest, introduce writers to literary agents and facilitate long term creative collaborations.
Their latest showcase of eight short plays took place last Sunday at the Southwark Playhouse. Our reviewer was there and gives her thoughts on this important event.
The company of the latest Little Pieces of Gold Photo: @rebeccarayne
Suzette Coon has created an invaluable platform for up and coming writing talent, which is also a fantastic forum for emerging actors and directors. The latest event at the Southwark Playhouse was a testament to her hard work. The eight pieces played to a full house, and there was a definite buzz in the air.
The evening opened with Nicola Jones’ Nothing to Hide – a neat little piece of dystopian drama which addressed one of the pervasive themes in the 21st century, that of the omniscience of social media. Interestingly, this theme surfaced again in the second half, in Lewis Harlock’s The Interview. Of the two, this reviewer felt that Harlock’s piece was marginally more successful – credit here to Matthew Pearson for a terrific performance as the increasingly put-upon Dan – but each piece suffered slightly in comparison with other explorations of similar worlds. Both Kafka’s The Trial and the contemporary television series Black Mirror sprang to mind.
It was a treat to hear some extremely able comic writing throughout the evening. Jamie Rowlands’ I Do (But), Christine Robertson’s Stopcock and Mica Smith’s Frolleagues all packed some serious comedy punch, and the laughs came from very different places. Rowlands’ piece slightly lost its way after the dramatic reveal; it’s tricky to throw the transgender issue into a 25 minute play without it creating an unbalanced feeling, particularly after such an assured and quickfire opening (special mention to Luke Higgins for his work here, and to the utterly believable Amy Bowden as the bride).
Christine Robertson though, managed to perfectly sustain the comedy throughout Stopcock, whilst never compromising on the situation’s reality. A difficult balancing act, and one beautifully managed by all three performers. Frolleagues was a deft and extremely funny treatment of the warped world of the office and millennial anxiety rolled into one. Mica Smith’s writing was sharp and assured; this surely is a career to watch.
Child-free – Jodie Garnish’s topsy-turvy look at the social politics of motherhood – seemed rather one dimensional in this company. Once the initial inversion became apparent, there was nowhere for the piece to go, and it lacked a dramatic arc. To create a true sense of drama in such a short piece is a real skill, and Olivia Mace’s Dancing Shoes was a terrific piece of writing in this regard. Dealing with hefty subject matter – dementia, family skeletons, racial politics – with a truth and a lightness of touch, and imaginatively directed by Natasha Rickman, this was another of the evening’s highlights.
Dipo Baruwa-Etti’s The Prince was another piece that didn’t shy away from serious moral questions. It felt electric to be confronted with a Christian woman being asked to denounce her maker, and seemed right and bold as a subject to be addressed, when so much of the contemporary world is being riven along faith lines. Sabrina Richmond provided some of the evening’s most mesmerising moments as she performed her magic.
Little Pieces of Gold is an important evening in London’s theatrical calendar, and it was an absolute pleasure to be in the presence of so much worthwhile creative industry. Long may it reign.
Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw
The shows in full were:
I DO (BUT) by Jamie Rowlands, directed by Glyn Williams
A PRINCE by Dipo Baruwa Etti, directed by Gemma Aked-Priestly
FROLLEAGUES by Micah Smith, directed by Jaclyn Bradley
CHILDFREE by Jodie Garnish, directed by Brigitte Adela
STOPCOCK by Christine Robertson, directed by Rebekah Murrell
THE INTERVIEW by Lewis Harock, directed by Lou-Lou Mason
NOTHING TO HIDE by Nicola Jones, directed by Tamar Saphra
DANCING SHOES by Olivia Mace, directed by Natasha Rickman
LITTLE PIECES OF GOLD
was at Southwark Playhouse
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