Review: The 24 Hour Plays

Johannes Lenhard 27 November 2012

The 24 Hour Plays

ADC Theatre, 11pm, Mon 26 Nov

Five crews of nine had 24 hours to write, choreograph and rehearse short plays with a single instruction: use this one word as your inspiration. The curtain opens at 11pm for the first one, ‘More’.

Marry / shag / kill is the game that Ben, Charlie and Lilly play while getting drunk on a hinterland park bench. The abrupt end to the cheerful evening arrives with Anna and her new boyfriend Henry, a posh turf from London. Issues of class and jealousy turn into nasty-comic arguments until the animosities are buried under another round of marry / shag / kill. A thoughtful story who found an able cast in the ‘Pillowman’-crew.

‘Radio’ starts with a half-naked boy listening to, yes, the radio. The story sedately evolves around ‘Silk FM’ hosted by two recent lovers just about to break up. ‘You missed our dirty weekend.’ But now, she is seeing someone else (the naked boy) while he has to return to his wife and daughter. Although altogether with respectable performances, it is only the host’s daughter that keeps the play running with brilliant lines (‘Everything retro is good’). She deservedly took home the ‘Best Actress’ prize.

The highlight of the evening followed with ‘Information’. How does one get access to information? How are we to deal with its overflow? The play is a single big caricature of Facebook, BBM, broadband and the students’ day work, libraries. Beautifully acted, delicately designed, one punchline hunts the next. The pantomime-cat, the naughty-nurses or retarded librarians try to help finding answers to questions such as ‘Why does it hurt when I pee?’ or ‘Is Mitt Romney a fascist?’. Once stopped, however, the information-flow cannot be revived. Is that what we want?

Play number four was not quite able to keep up with the amount of wit and subtleness that ‘Information’ displayed, but the attack of ‘Satisfaction’ on our very own rationality was nevertheless brilliantly translated on stage. The ‘James-Paris-Machine’ can re-arrange bodies and transform people. Unfortunately, it seems to be able to also turn people into apples and dinosaurs. The comic arguments within the ‘musical-chairs’ game finds its highpoint when suddenly two people speaking the exact same words come out of the machine and fall in love. The two-for-one offer really worked. The last play of the evening evoked fewer words. A story about lemmings, that are in truth theatre players, centred around Harry who most recently suffered from severe mental problems. Here I felt the writer was not entirely able to manage the high-pressure timeframe.

Altogether, however, the audience had a hilarious night out. Many big ideas were taken out of the theatre history and put into nicely written short plays. Many strong performances delightful brighten the horizon for next theatre-term.

Johannes Lenhard