Quintessence

Sussex Playwrights Reviews

Quintessence
Sweet Productions
Brighton Horrorfest 2019

Written and performed by Emily Carding
Directed by Dominique Gerrard

Winner of the Fringe Review Outstanding Theatre Award (Brighton Fringe 2019).

‘one of the UK’s leading Shakespearian actors’ – The Stage

Earth, the far future – and humanity has finally succeeded in wiping itself out. Its successors, the android Guardians, are at work. Humanity 2.0 is under construction, and we’re the evidence it’s going quite well.

Emily Carding as Guardian Ariel, a poised, precise figure in turquoise plus ethereal makeup, eyes black pinpoints in blue-shadowed white, welcomes us to our lessons.

This artificial intelligence, a creature charged with the care of precious if problematic young life, is programmed with the entire works of Shakespeare as its guidebook to the human soul.

With crystal clear delivery, all measured oddness and beatific white gaze, every second, every move is choreographed and precisely executed.

Assured technical support delivers a complete and subtle soundtrack of nature, computer sounds and voice fragments. As the light changes colour and quality, Ariel shifts and rearranges body components and voice samples, into young Juliet, blokey Henry and extreme Richard, all fluidly accessed moment by moment.

Like all experiments, some don’t go according to plan. There are moments of humour in the eeriness; the AIs can’t have been paying attention to Romeo and Juliet, as they completely fail to get adolescence. And shocks too, achieved by swiftly flipping lighting and performance. We’re left with our own ‘cry God for England’ moment, a call to action in our own fight for survival.

The piece is versatile; it could be performed in a huge venue with projections on screens, headmic and video closeups – or in the tiniest most claustrophobic venue, even one to one. Up close, Carding’s favoured mode, it’s captivating, an intensely personal and mesmerising experience.

Keep an eye on the Page for news of when and where Quintessence is on next.

Philippa Hammond

For your diary – January 5th 2020

 

The meeting is under construction – watch this space!

Sunday January 5th 2020

New Venture Theatre Bar, Bedford Place, Brighton

19.00 – 21.00

Free to Sussex Playwrights members
Visitors £3 (£2 with Equity card)
Includes drinks

Please note – Sussex Playwrights are not affiliated with our friends the New Venture Theatre.

2020 dates

Jan 5 Feb 2 Mar 1 Apr 5 May 3 Jun 7 Jul 5 Aug 2

October 6th meeting 2019

Sussex Playwrights October 6th meeting 2019

Monthly networking and drinks for writers, producers and makers of new drama for stage, screen and audio

Guests

Miles Mlambo and Chris Gates whose new play Dancing In The Moonlight: A Play About Phil Lynott won acclaim at Edinburgh 2019. Writer / actor Miles performed an extract from the play followed by discussion with Philippa joined by director Chris.

Tom Dussek introduced his production of a night of short plays by Chekhov and Brian Friel

Director Mill Goble, writer David Wells and actor Gordon Foggo presented an extract from David’s Suicide Notes, a new play in preparation for the upcoming Brighton Horrorfest, followed by audience discussions and conversations.

Members’ news

Chair Philippa and Russell Shaw read two of the dramatic monologues as part of a Jackanory-style evening of horror tales in The Other 1% Live, produced by our own Simon Moorhead, at Sweetwerks on October 16th, kicking off Brighton Horrorfest 2019.

Previous guests Unmasked Theatre presented Brighton Scratch Night 2019  at the Rialto Theatre.

Previous guest Howard Ford’s family adventure film Adventure Boyz, featuring member Russell Shaw, had further showings this month.

Honorary VP Judy Upton’s radio drama The Bulbul Was Singing was BBC Radio 4’s Drama of the Week.

December advance news

Our Honorary President William Nicholson will be our special guest speaker at our December meeting! Playwright, novelist and screenwriter William Nicholson, author of his latest film Breathe, directed by Andy Serkis, Shadowlands, Les Miserables, Gladiator, First Knight, Elizabeth: The Golden Age http://www.williamnicholson.com/

For your diary – our future meeting dates

3 Nov, 1 Dec, 5 Jan, 2 Feb, 1 Mar, 5 Apr, 3 May, 7 Jun, 5 Jul & 2 Aug.

July 7th 2019 meeting report

Sussex Goes To Edinburgh!

Playwrights, performers and producers in Sussex are preparing their shows for the long journey to Edinburgh this August.

We were delighted to welcome our July 7th special guests:

Emily Carding, winner of Fringe Review Outstanding Show award at the 2019 Brighton Fringe Awards for Quintessence

Simon Jenner’s review: Quintessence Fringe Review

Roger Kay and Lauren Varnfield of the Rialto Theatre

Lauren is writer, director and performer of Myra, the solo play on the story of Myra Hindley

Our review: Myra Sussex Playwrights

Roger and Lauren invite shows scouted at Edinburgh to the Rialto each year

Actor/playwright Jules Craig, in discussion with Philippa and Emily Carding about the experience of playing Shakespeare’s iconic male roles. Jules is currently playing Shylock for the Brighton Shakespeare Company.

The Merchant of Venice review by Simon Jenner

 

Sussex Playwrights

Welcome to Sussex Playwrights

For writers, producers, directors, actors and anyone with a passion for plays

Sussex Playwrights Writers Link

We promote new writing for stage, screen, radio, audio and on-line.

Our purpose is to encourage new work from writers throughout the English speaking world.

Sussex just happens to be where we started, in 1935.

More about Sussex Playwrights…

June 2nd 2019 Summer party

For your diary – Our next meeting

Our June 2nd summer party meeting is under construction – details soon.

Venue

The New Venture Theatre bar
Bedford Place
Brighton
BN1 2PT

All welcome

Free to Sussex Playwrights members

Visitors welcome – £3 on door / £2 with Equity card [including drinks]

You can join on the night [£15 / £12 with Equity card], which entitles you to free entry to every meeting and event, including drinks, and an entry into our next playwriting competition.

Please note: Sussex Playwrights is a separate organisation from our friends the New Venture Theatre, and does not share membership.

If you’d like to present and discuss an extract from your play at a future meeting, please contact

Philippa Hammond

chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk.

For your diary

The dates for Sussex Playwrights meetings over the next few months:

2 June 2019 [Summer Party]
7 July 2019
4 August 2019

Sussex Playwrights

Supporting and promoting new drama in the region since 1935

Our meetings

If you’d like a taste of what we do at our meetings … here’s a little run down of the last few events:

 

Our next meeting will be happening during the Brighton Fringe – Check out our April meeting report for details and responses to five of the upcoming shows we previewed at that meeting.

Members’ news

Protect and Survive

Sussex Playwrights’ writers, actors and producer collaborate on this major online audio drama series. Contributors include Russell Shaw, Sorcha Brooks, Philippa Hammond, Robert Cohen, Simon Jenner and TBC Audio producer Simon Moorhead.

You can hear the whole cycle 7 to 19 May as part of Brighton Fringe, in the Jubilee Library.

Imagine what life would be like in Brighton following a nuclear attack on the UK? The chaos, the anguish, the resilience….

What would you do to survive?

As the UK is hit by 160 nuclear warheads, The Other 1% takes you in and around Brighton from the day before to 1000 years after the attack. Systems at the local council collapse, the hospital can’t cope with the human tide and the postman is conscripted to maintain law and order. What exactly is the farmer feeding her pigs, what struggles will humanity face hundreds of years after a nuclear holocaust and how will language and our relationships evolve?

Brighton-based award-winning producer and director, Simon Moorhead: ‘The entire series is produced, cast and recorded in Brighton and Sussex. We are fortunate to have so much talent on our doorstep.’

Details

May Guests:

A celebration of writing and performance during the 2019 Brighton Fringe showcasing two more upcoming Fringe shows and an award-winning short monologue, featuring performances and conversations with

 

Jenny Rowe

Jenny performs and discusses an extract from her solo play

‘Tiptree: No-one Else’s Damn Secret But My Own’

Details

Most Curious Productions

Tristan Woolf presents an extract from his new play ‘The Hunters of Ghost Hall’, with writer and actors in conversation.

Details

Joshua Plummer

Writer, actor and stage combat tutor Joshua performs and discusses his short solo piece ‘Samaritans’ – one of three winners of London Theatre Podcast’s New Year, Same Me competition. Joshua will also be giving some insights on dramatic combat on the night.

Details

The Harbour Theatre Company

Eddie Alford presents and discusses an extract from his upcoming play ‘Hello Who’s Calling’

 

April 2019 meeting – now over

Brighton Fringe preview, featured extracts and discussions on:

Risqué! by Timothy Coakley

Directed by Murray Hecht

 

Meet the strip club owner who can’t get the staff, the incompetent sex line operator, the lift attendant with a secret, the man who wants a bigger one, Desperate Denise, inappropriate behaviour, the girl who can’t stop, the wife who can’t believe her eyes, the doctor who gets a shock, and the swingers who want to try something new!

Tickets

 

Four Thieves Vinegar by Christine Foster

Directed by Margot Jobbins, FourTails Theatre Company

Four Thieves Vinegar is a black comedy about the black death. Set in the dingy depths of Newgate Prison, 1665: the height of the plague. The play finds its four characters – three prisoners and their jailer – in one of the few places currently untouched by the disease rampaging throughout the land. One prisoner, an alchemist, believes he has found a cure for the plague and implores his fellow inmates to help him make it. But to do that they’ll need gold, and to get that they’ll need to make good use of the only resources at their disposal: sex, wit and lies.

Tickets

 

The Wasp by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm

A twisting, taut psychological drama. Heather has made a success of her life. Carla is out of cash and she is willing to take part in an unusual proposition. The two women meet up for the first time since leaving school and the intrigue and manipulation begins. The Wasp by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm had its original production at the Hampstead Theatre in January 2015.

Tickets

 

Chain Written and directed by Peter Gardiner, Two Bit Productions

From the team that brought you 2018’s “Bully Beef” comes Chain, a contemporary play with audio drama interludes. A group of anti-war activists commit themselves to radical new tactics, when they lead to consequences none of them could of for-seen it pushes their beliefs to the edge and threatens to tear the group apart.

Tickets

 

Further Education by Pete Barrett

Directed by Luke Ofield and Pip O’Neill, Unmasked Theatre

1985: Frank the miner likes doing his job and reading the Sun. Unfortunately, Maggie is after his job and his new housemates definitely don’t like him reading the Sun. In a riotous clash of class, morals and feminism, very traditional Frank finds himself bunking down with three very modern students at the heart of the picketing wars.

In a country seeking to eradicate his livelihood, Frank must decide how he would like to be remembered once the line is inevitably drawn.

Award-winning Brighton company Unmasked Theatre returns with a winner from the highly successful Brighton Scratch Night.

Tickets

 

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Sunday March 3rd 2019 19.00 – 21.00 pm

It’s approaching that time of year again – the Sussex Playwrights AGM is here.

Please could all current paid members come to the meeting. Come along and have your say!

You will be very welcome to attend, speak, propose and second, and all current members are eligible for election to the 2019 – 2020 posts.

Could you let us know if you would like to stand in the election?

Posts and current holders are:

Chair – Philippa Hammond

Vice Chair – Robert Cohen

Secretary – Thomas Everchild

Treasurer – Keith Holman [Keith is an accountant and the son of long-serving Sussex Playwright the late Olive Holman. He is looking after this role in her memory].

Committee members

Please could you send any items for the agenda, and any motions you’d like to propose?

Non members are welcome too – although you won’t be able to vote or stand, you can get a feel for what Sussex Playwrights is all about, enjoy a glass of wine and networking conversation – all for just £3 / £2 with Equity card.

You would of course be welcome to join on the night!

Membership is £15 / £12 with Equity card.

Contact: Philippa Hammond chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk

Venue

The New Venture Theatre bar
Bedford Place
Brighton
BN1 2PT

All welcome

Free to Sussex Playwrights members

Visitors welcome – £3 on door / £2 with Equity card [including drinks]

You can join on the night [£15 / £12 with Equity card], which entitles you to free entry to every meeting and event, including drinks, and an entry into our next playwriting competition.

Please note: Sussex Playwrights is a separate organisation from our friends the New Venture Theatre, and does not share membership.

Our March guests

Lena Richardson Hill presents

an extract from and discussion on

The Thrill of Love

by Amanda Whittington

We’ll also be hearing from Christine Foster about the new production of her play

Four Thieves Vinegar

which will feature in 2019 Brighton Fringe.

Writer / actor Joshua Plummer in conversation.

Joshua was one of the winners in the London Theatre Podcast’s “New Year, New Me” Writing Competition.

Play readings at future meetings

If you have a short play or excerpt, work in progress or finished piece [up to 10 minutes long] and would like to present it at a future meeting for discussion and feedback, or you would like to read on the night, please email us in advance at chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk

Next meeting date

3 March 2019

————————————————————–

February 3rd meetup – finished

Networking and conversation for writers, actors, creators and lovers of stage, screen, audio and online drama

This month:

An extract from a new play in progress, Requiem for a Ratcatcher’s Daughter by Jules Craig, featuring Jenny Rowe and Sian Webber, followed by discussion with Jules Craig and the actors.

Jules Craig trained as an actor at Rose Bruford College, and as a voice coach at Central School of Speech and Drama. Recent credits include Marjorie in ‘Sisterhood’ (Kriah Arts) and Mustardseed/Snout in ‘Midsummer Nights Dream’ (BSC at BOAT). She teaches Voice at ‘ACT’, Brighton and ‘Identity’ Drama School, London. Writing work includes: short stories for ‘White Rabbit’s’ ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably’ (Basement, Brighton), contributions to ‘Brighton, A Graphic Novel’, and ‘Backstage Brighton’ (QueenSpark Books), and ‘Edith, Elizabeth and I’, (One woman show), which she produced, performed and toured nationally in 2016.

Sian Webber has worked extensively in theatre and on screen. Recent TV work includes Gunpowder, Silent Witness, Black Earth Rising, Midsommer Murders and Holby City and for ten years she has played the recurring role of Ritchie Scott in Eastenders.

Jenny Rowe is an actor / improviser & writer who performs with Brighton improv group The Maydays (***** Fringe Guru) and Impromptu Shakespeare. She has also guest performed with Whirled News Tonight at the iO Theatre in Chicago. She has toured with Fluxx and runs improv for creative writing workshops. (‘Jenny Rowe excels at the one liners that bring a sketch to a satisfying conclusion.’ Fringe Review, Argus the Musical).

Requiem for a Rat Catcher’s Daughter is a dark comedy exploring ageing, identity, and the pleasures and pitfalls of living alone. EVIE has found her own inventive means of controlling the plague of rats in her garden, creating her own homemade traps. When an unfortunate accident draws the attention of the local authorities, she is plagued with visitors: community police, social workers, and a rat catcher. When REBEKAH arrives, EVIE assumes she is yet another official and hides the bigger better trap that she is building. However REBEKAH is not what she seems, or what EVIE assumes her to be, and EVIE’S independence is consequently challenged.

 

If you’re working on a new script, perhaps in preparation for Brighton Fringe, and would be interested in presenting a work in progress extract or having a scratch reading on the night, please do let us know!

 

For your diary

The dates for Sussex Playwrights meetings over the next few months:

7 April 2019 [Brighton Fringe Preview]
5 May 2019 [Brighton Festival / Fringe meeting]
2 June 2019
[Summer Party]
4 August 2019

Sussex Playwrights

Supporting and promoting new drama in the region since 1935


Previous meetings

Sussex Playwrights January 6th 2019 – finished

Happy New Year!

All about Sussex Playwrights’ January meeting for writers, actors, producers – anyone interested in new drama and all media.

Special guests:

Brighton’s TBC Audio producer / director Simon Moorhead brings all the latest news of his current work – the huge online audio drama project The Other 1%, recently mentioned in the BBC Sounds’ Drama Podcast Report. Essential networking for writers and actors in the region!

Writers, actors, crew, post production work – this series is almost entirely Sussex-created and made.

Fascinating insights and essential networking opportunity for any writer or actor interested in connecting with a commissioning producer working in the city.

Philippa Hammond gives a live performance of Delicacy, a brand new monologue by Grant Gillespie and Laura Lockington, which will also shortly be recorded for the series.

And personal commitments permitting, writer-actor-producer Robert Cohen will be performing a preview extract from his solo show ‘Hi Vis’, which will be running at Sweet Venues in February, followed by discussion on the practicalities of writing, performing and producing solo work.

 

———-

 

Christmas party

Drama, comedy, stories, wine, nibbles, great conversation …

Come and join us for our annual Christmas event!

Take part: If you have a Christmas / winter / ghost themed short story, sketch, short play and you’d like to perform or share them on the night, please email

chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk


November meeting – finished.

A monthly writers’ and actors’ meetup

Different Theatre’s writer/director Sam Chittenden will present and discuss an extract from her latest drama Sary, shortly to feature in Horrorfest, followed by discussion about her experiences around creating new drama, writing for production and performance, and marketing writers’ work.

Featuring Sharon Drain and Rebecca Jones.


We’ll also welcome Luke Ofield and Pip O’Neill – as the Rialto Theatre’s resident company, the award-winning Unmasked Theatre, they run the highly successful The Brighton Scratch Night. A development programme for new writing, the Scratch has seen five plays go on to full Fringe runs, and this year will see a whole lot more.

Ben Baeza and John Black perform an extract from Naked Kittens by Max Wilkinson, directed by Luke & Pip.

Unmasked Theatre are a producing company based in Brighton, with four years’ experience of critically acclaimed productions, with a focus on new writing and adapting classical literature for the modern stage.

 

April 2019 meeting

Our April 2019 meeting report

Our Brighton Fringe preview event featured extracts and discussions on five upcoming shows. Here’s Simon Jenner’s review of the evening and a great way to consider what to see at this year’s Fringe:#

SPC are gaining a reputation for showcasing and preview. Here the April session featured five such shows, and the acting was already up to performative strength. It’s an ideal way to choose some of the Fringe’s strongest shows, and I’d recommend making a date for every April at SPC to get your fix.

Risqué! by Timothy Coakley

Directed by Murray Hecht

There’s a nice blurb worth quoting: ‘Meet the strip club owner who can’t get the staff, the incompetent sex line operator, the lift attendant with a secret, the man who wants a bigger one, Desperate Denise, inappropriate behaviour, the girl who can’t stop, the wife who can’t believe her eyes, the doctor who gets a shock, and the swingers who want to try something new!’

It’s clearly an ensemble cast playing various characters in a series of 5 to 10 minute sketches.

Tonight featured Sascha Cooper as the lift operator, with a desire to hook a man, and Stewart James Barham
 as the one who’s almost up for it. Cooper manages to flesh her role as it were as someone who’ll invoke the end of the world to get a little lift.

It’s a fun role but resolutely a sketch, and the kind of genre worth enjoying on 1970s TV.

Female agency and sexuality’s less stereotyped, though and as part of a suite of such sketches it’s enjoyable and well-wrought, if a bit formulaic. Barham too was fine though had less to do. Cooper on this evidence deserves a larger role somewhere and it’d be good to see if Coakley might provide us with a stretch into substantial comedy.

Four Thieves Vinegar by Christine Foster

Here’s a revival worth waiting for, sicne its London premiere. The writer gave a talk on it last tine, and it’s invigorating to see it performed here. Directed by Margot Jobbins, for Four Tails Theatre Company, it’s a privilege too.

Four Thieves Vinegar is a consummate black comedy about the black death and on this evidence easily one of the best things to see in the Fringe when it opens at the Rialto.

It’s set in the dingy depths of Newgate Prison, 1665: the height of the plague. The play finds its four characters – three prisoners and their jailer – in one of the few places currently untouched by the disease rampaging throughout the land.

Simon Holt’s jailor David Parton has little to do here save usher in new inmates. It’d be good to see how his role plays out.

Poor Jennet Flyte – Char Brockes – is the first. It’s a winning performance of fearful containment. Innocent of any real wrongdoing, as far as we see, Flyte’s frightened and clearly never seen the inside of a prison; more than can be said for nurse Hannah Jeakes played by the consummate Sorcha Brooks.

Their attention’s anchored by the one prisoner already in the cell, Liam Murray Scott’s Matthias Richards (the Alchemist). Richards believes he’s found a cure for the plague and implores his fellow inmates to help him make it. But to do that they’ll need gold, and to get that they’ll need to make good use of the only resources at their disposal: sex, wit and lies.

The title’s based on a truth that thieves worked out that vinegar repels the plague – the fleas, though they didn’t know it – to allow them to rob from the plague-consumed dead.

Scott draws a nervous authority, a man obsessed to the extent that he’s relatively oblivious to Flyte, who gradually warms to Jeakes’ persuading her to tell her story, as Jeakes cheerfully tells hers. Still the scene circles around Richards’ offering a way out. a few props and the trio’s acting was exciting, consummate stuff.

At the Rialto at the opening and end of May. Do see this if it’s one of two plays you get to. The other’s recommended directly below. The two that follow that though are eminently fine third and fourth choices

The Wasp by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm

Directed by Kevin Nash, and produced by Eugene Doyle, Lloyd Malcolm’s now famed for Emelia, a superb play premiered at the Globe in 2018 and transferring earlier this year to the West End. This really is a worthy precursor.

Amy Coutts’ Heather has made a success of her life. Gala Orsborn’s Carla is out of cash, willing to take part in an unusual proposition. The women meet up for the first time since leaving school: intrigue and manipulation begins. Carla’s already pregnant with her fifth. Twins she reckons. The prosthesis is remarkably convincing – just one detail showing we’re not just getting an excerpt but a sampled preview.

The Wasp by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm premiered at the Hampstead Theatre in January 2015. Hailed as a psychological thriller it’s more than that yet fulfills this consummately – as anyone who saw it at Hampstead or on its transfer to Trafalgar Studios in January 2016 will confirm. An all-female Sleuth might furnish one parallel.

Anyone seeing this will be struck at how close to its original casting these two actors – who never saw the production – have intuited these roles. That’s not necessary of course but Lloyd Malcolm’s writing suggests similar responses from casting to performance.

Carla’s language is clipped and acutely observed, equally refusing Heather’s unpleasantly articulate assumptions, casually lumping infidelity and failure to nappy-change with wife-beating. Challenged by Carla Heather rejoins unforgivably: ’That is acceptable to some… It’s basically normal. For them.’ Carla, no ‘them’ ripostes ‘My bloke lays one finger on me or the kids and he’s out… what are you going on about?’

What Heather’s going on about is the fact that unlike Carla, her moving on has all been on the outside: she’s still sixteen and wants to drag Carla back there too. It’s an intimately vicious two-hander, Heather’s hyper-articulate rationalising answering every angle that might be aimed at her personal solution.

Coutts conveys Heather’s easily-triggered defences, her gleaming carapace and deep insecurity. Lloyd Malcolm’s neatly prescriptive suggestion that the more manicured middle class woman has trouble conceiving whilst the working class Carla has none might seem a sad cliché out of Blood Brothers, but there’s a reason Carla might remember and this is why Lloyd Malcolm digs deeper than even that musical on class motivation and backstory.

Orsborn’s clipped Carla is savagely good, her every inflection watchful, suspicious, and it transpires flecked with recall at Coutts’ Heather. Like the original Carla, Orsborn’s blonde hair is scraped up, a coping housewife with no time for glamour. Coutts is svelte. This promises to be a first-rate revival.

Chain written and directed by Peter Gardiner, Two Bit Productions

From the team that brought you 2018’s Bully Beef comes Chain, a contemporary play with audio drama interludes. A group of anti-war activists commit themselves to radical new tactics, when they lead to consequences none of them could of foreseen it pushes their beliefs to the edge and threatens to tear the group apart.

The unnamed ensemble cast are excellent and Gardiner should have provided their names as well as roles, so this summary’s a little balder. Piquant is the reappearance of one character who was in an eco-action of 1992, now legendary. Another young man well plays the jaded Marxist and another a man who’s just discovered him. They’re about to act, but it’s a little Rebels Without A Clue or perhaps a route map, and they’re leaning on earlier activists for support.

In truth there’s a powerful groundswell of activism and a regenerated left that needs no harking-back to earlier Anglo-Saxon attitudes. Just watch Novara media, let alone Owen Jones. But this is a strong opening, and twins with another play on radicalism featured tonight – it’s in the air, however sardonically drama needs to frame it.

Well to the fore are flourished acronyms like EDF (English Defence League) the home of Tommy Robinson and now banned. For those of us who share the political aspirations of the studenty types and eternal student types depicted, these are veggie burger and drink, but I’m not convinced everyone would know the names. Perhaps the strong ambiance will render this unimportant.

Further Education by Pete Barrett

Directed by Luke Ofield and Pip O’Neill, Unmasked Theatre

1985: Frank the miner likes doing his job and reading the Sun. Unfortunately, Maggie is after his job and his new housemates definitely don’t like him reading the Sun. In a riotous clash of class, morals and feminism, very traditional Frank finds himself bunking down with three very modern students at the heart of the picketing wars.

In a country seeking to eradicate his livelihood, Frank must decide how he would like to be remembered once the line is inevitably drawn.

We’re treated to three of the cast members, in order of appearance Brontë Sandwell as Claire, Jessica Smith’s Emma, and Ella Verity’s politically active and feminist Rachel. Before Rachel arrives Claire’s found asleep on the sofa – so student-land before loans crushed even lie-ins – is cajoled by Emma who can’t believe Claire’s having an affair with a married lecturer and decides egged on by Rachel to do something about it. But Rachel’s more direct even than that. It’s both funny and unnerving. The acting’s wholly convincing. Sandwell as dippy naïve Claire, Smith as more staunchly feminist, sensible sister mode, and finally Verity as dungareed feminist prepared to take drastic action.

The real drama is about to unfurl. These Essex University students are real, or their actions are. Expressing solidarity during the Miners Strike of 1984-85 they invite one, Frank, to their campus. A culture clash depicted above is more than on the work cards. It’s a strong play, historically grounded, setting us up for that very rare thing, a comedy about a historically grim clash. Here it’s between Thatcher and unions, union members and their naïve allies. Another to see.

SPC has scored with showcasing four strong dramas, all laced with comedy (if two are very black) and by contrast more typical fare in lightning sketches. I’ve booked.

Risqué! by Timothy Coakley

Directed by Murray Hecht

Meet the strip club owner who can’t get the staff, the incompetent sex line operator, the lift attendant with a secret, the man who wants a bigger one, Desperate Denise, inappropriate behaviour, the girl who can’t stop, the wife who can’t believe her eyes, the doctor who gets a shock, and the swingers who want to try something new!

Four Thieves Vinegar by Christine Foster

Directed by Margot Jobbins, FourTails Theatre Company

Four Thieves Vinegar is a black comedy about the black death. Set in the dingy depths of Newgate Prison, 1665: the height of the plague. The play finds its four characters – three prisoners and their jailer – in one of the few places currently untouched by the disease rampaging throughout the land. One prisoner, an alchemist, believes he has found a cure for the plague and implores his fellow inmates to help him make it. But to do that they’ll need gold, and to get that they’ll need to make good use of the only resources at their disposal: sex, wit and lies.

The Wasp by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm

A twisting, taut psychological drama. Heather has made a success of her life. Carla is out of cash and she is willing to take part in an unusual proposition. The two women meet up for the first time since leaving school and the intrigue and manipulation begins. The Wasp by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm had its original production at the Hampstead Theatre in January 2015.

Chain written and directed by Peter Gardiner, Two Bit Productions

From the team that brought you 2018’s “Bully Beef” comes Chain, a contemporary play with audio drama interludes. A group of anti-war activists commit themselves to radical new tactics, when they lead to consequences none of them could of for-seen it pushes their beliefs to the edge and threatens to tear the group apart.

Further Education by Pete Barrett

Directed by Luke Ofield and Pip O’Neill, Unmasked Theatre

1985: Frank the miner likes doing his job and reading the Sun. Unfortunately, Maggie is after his job and his new housemates definitely don’t like him reading the Sun. In a riotous clash of class, morals and feminism, very traditional Frank finds himself bunking down with three very modern students at the heart of the picketing wars.

In a country seeking to eradicate his livelihood, Frank must decide how he would like to be remembered once the line is inevitably drawn.

Award-winning Brighton company Unmasked Theatre returns with a winner from the highly successful Brighton Scratch Night.