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

2 Dumb the Musical

Sussex Playwrights Reviews

2 Dumb the Musical

Roedean Theatre, Brighton

This is the first ever performance of this show. Roedean Theatre hosts a five performance weekend of this new rock musical by Tim Newman and Stuart Brayson, featuring an assured and accomplished lead cast, great voices and songwriting and superb support from the live band and the Brighton Academy’s 120-strong chorus.

Denver James is both a rock star, and a charismatic leader of the young. He’s come to the PM’s attention – and as he gathers his people, a great conspiracy unfolds.

Laced with glimpses of characters’ private life and the past, with strong echoes of Jesus Christ Superstar, this tale of a silenced youth movement that’s found its voice feels so now, with Extinction Rebellion and climate change school strikes front page news.

For a show of this quality and scale with rightly ambitious plans to transfer and tour, this intensive weekend tryout is a great opportunity to polish a gem.

It’s wordy, the writing at times resembles a lecture, with characters rapidly declaiming manifestos and political opinions, and as a result is long (there is an interval, and a bar) and would benefit from an edit.

The technical element is terrific, using the venue’s resources to the max. This is no school hall; Roedean’s fully equipped theatre has the wow factor, with huge scope for very big shows. Brighton fringe must surely envy the Roedean students for this terrific asset.

The few first night technical glitches can be addressed – the sound mix on the night lost some of the lyrics and occasionally dancers and spot lights didn’t quite meet.

But we’re left with a lasting impression of a show with fantastic energy, the quality of lead performers’ singing, fabulous exhilarating ensemble singing, dancing and sheer exuberant presence are a joy. The enormous almost entirely female supporting cast often surround the audience, using every inch of the stage, aisles and upper tiers. We felt completely part of the whole experience, the finale enclosing us in a wall of sound and firefly-like torchlight.

Highly recommended, and it will be fascinating to see where 2 Dumb the Musical goes next.

The show contains strobe light and audience floodlighting effects.

Carparking on site and it’s the Roedean School stop on the 27 bus route.

Page

October 25/26/27 3.00 pm & 7.30pm
Roedean Theatre

Philippa Hammond
Thomas Everchild

Sussex Playwrights April 2020 podcast

April meeting news

Sussex Playwrights announcement

Discussion, Performance, Readings and Networking
For all types of dramatic writing…
Theatre, film, radio, podcast, audiobook…
Sussex Playwrights has been promoting new writing since 1935.

Festivals have been postponed, theatres are closing down and the NVT have cancelled their current production, so in keeping with current advice we won’t be holding a Sussex Playwrights April meeting.

We hope you’ll understand that we’re being careful.

Sussex Playwrights goes temporarily virtual

For April, we’ll be launching our occasional podcast series, so you can enjoy an online ‘meeting’ with us at the usual time. Just click the arrow at the top of the post to listen.

Hear the conversations we held in February with Sussex Playwrights writer/actor members who produce, create and perform their own work on stage, on screen and online.

Featuring Janet Behan, Eddie Alford, Tristan Woolf, James Alexander Allen, Thomas Everchild and Philippa Hammond

April meeting details

Date: Sunday April 5th

Time: from 19.00 onwards

Place: your laptop, pad or phone at www.sussexplaywrights.co.uk

We hope to see you at the May meeting – we’ll keep you posted.

All welcome

Announcing the Podcast One Minute Fiction Challenge

Short writing challenges – flash fiction, writing prompts, etc – are very popular. We’ve been exploring some short fiction challenges recently with some success, and we’re going to introduce them to Sussex Playwrights online. News about how it works and how you can play coming soon.

Announcing the 2020-2021 Constance Cox Prize Playwriting Competition

With the rise and rise of Print On Demand publishing, we’re planning to promote writers and writing by publishing the first collection of plays for stage under the Sussex Playwrights brand. We touched on the theme of self publishing at the February meeting and we’ll be discussing the ins and outs of publishing your own work in more depth here soon, with insights from our Secretary Thomas Everchild.

Our next Constance Cox Prize Playwriting Competition will also be a call for entries for this collection.

Details will be published here soon.

2020 for your diary

TBA AGM – Please do attend the Sussex Playwrights AGM for your chance to stand for election in a committee post, vote for candidates and have a say in how the Club is run. Posts:
Chair
Vice Chair
Secretary
Treasurer
Committee members
If you would like to stand for one of these posts, or if you would like any motion discussed at the AGM, please email Philippa Hammond chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk

Virtual meeting dates May 3 Jun 7 Jul 5 Aug 2 – news as we get it

If you’d like to discuss recording a short piece of your writing for inclusion in a future podcast, please email Philippa Hammond chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk

See you soon.

 

Suicide Notes

Sussex Playwrights Reviews

Suicide Notes
by David Wells
Atomic Force Productions
Brighton Horrorfest 2019

There have always been stories of hauntings, curses and demonic possession.

Sam and Ali have been charged with disposing of their late neighbour Eric’s papers – without looking at them. So of course, they can’t resist a peek, and are drawn into a strange tale of horror, murder and devotion.

Wells’ script is an intricate and loving exploration of the link between music and mystery, taking in the notion of the musician who sells his soul to the devil, cursed songs and the urban legend of the 27 Club – the roll call of rock stars who met their end at the age of 27. There’s an engrossing murder mystery here too, unfolded through a discovered journal.

Mobiles are used as torches, sources of information and jokes about social media, so we’re firmly in the here and now, as the story delves into the past. Sweetwerks’ simple black box space is well used by directors Mill Goble and Wells, although some action on the floor might be difficult for anyone beyond the front row to see. Projection of social media posts and newspaper cuttings has great scope for more – in contrast, the ‘gore’ of one image sat uneasily with the literary exploration of the mystery’s gradual reveal.

As Sam, Tabitha Wild’s sparky performance is assured and entertaining, with Jack West’s Ali her petulantly funny foil. Gordon Foggo delivers great contrast with strange and otherworldly intensity as Eric, trapped in the terrible truth of his wife’s death, spinning his tale through journal extracts.

It’s an engrossing exploration, and left me with the urge to delve deeper into the weird tales touched on throughout the play.

Suicide Notes
October 23/24 20.00
Details and tickets: https://m.facebook.com/events/525900304887313

Philippa Hammond

A Night Of Chekhov

Sussex Playwrights Reviews
A Night Of Chekhov
Mosh Pit
 
Three short Chekhov plays, plus Afterplay by Brian Friel, presented by Mosh Pit and directed by the actors.
 
It’s energetic, entertaining and fun – not what I’d expected, and vague expectations of languid wilting and moping about quickly vanished tonight, at my first ever encounter with Chekhov.
 
In A Tragic Figure, Jack Kristiansen is the despairing put-upon husband manically manipulating his boxes round the theatre as the audience files in, at the end of his tether lamenting his terrible lot to kindly yet presuming friend Paul Moriarty.
 
In The Bear, Tom Dussek’s loud lairy landowner; a scruffy Falstaffian slob (or maybe a Romeo if he’d survived to get bitter) and Penny Scott Andrews’ austerely buttoned-up shut-down widow whip up some unexpected sexual tension, refereed by Kristiansen’s appalled butler.
 
They’re pacey and amusing – and I think there are still more laughs to be teased out of these characterful pieces as the run continues.
 
Part two changes pace with a sharp little piece, The Ninny, with Kristiansen as a disdainful, bullying employer, tormenting that most powerless member of a household, the governess, played with sweet restraint by Jenny Rowe.
 
A neat scene change slips Rowe into the final piece, stories and lies, half truths and tales spinning out in a gradually revealed and subtly played encounter between Rowe’s love-inspired Sonya from Uncle Vanya and Moriarty’s valiant Andrey from Three Sisters.
 
Brian Friel’s gentle, contemplative play revisits these two faded Chekhovian characters in later life and reduced circumstances, both clinging to hope and finding it where they can. And money’s a recurring theme throughout the night; the reckless spending, owing, controlling and fear the having and the lack of it can spark.
 
The Rialto Theatre Brighton
October 8-11 7pm £15/£12

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.

September 2019

Kick off a dramatic autumn with Sussex Playwrights

Kick off a dramatic autumn with the next Sussex Playwrights meeting this Sunday September 1st – all welcome.

Our special guests had all just returned from the Edinburgh experience, with audience and critical acclaim to their credit!

We discussed their work producing, writing and performing new drama at the Fringe.

Magician, comedian, actor, writer, corporate presenter, paranormal sceptic, bon viveur Paul Zenon discussing

Trust Me!

‘The master at work …’ Must See Show [Fringe Review]
Review

Different Theatre – Writer, producer, director, actor Sam Chittenden discussing

Sary

‘a beautiful piece of theatre, crafted with elegance and passion …’ [Fringe Review]
Review

Metamorphosis

‘Assiduously constructed and impressively acted, Different Theatre’s female-oriented Metamorphosis rings with a new voice …’ [A Younger Theatre]
Review

Bite-Size Plays – Producer and driving force behind this Brighton and Edinburgh phenomenon, Nicolas Brice discussing and performing with Philippa a short play from the menu; ‘Vintage’, by Lucy Kaufman.

The Big Bite Size Breakfast Show

‘a winning formula for good plays … guaranteed good theatre.’ [The British Theatre Guide], shortlisted for the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award

Review