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

August 2019 meeting report

Writers’ Night

Sussex Playwrights was established originally to read and discuss writers’ plays.

Now we’ve re-established it as a great place for writers, performers, producers and makers of new stage, screen, audio and online drama, we’re going to be weaving this idea back into our monthly meetings schedule over the next few months. We’ll be keeping the mix of networking, special guests and guest performances too. Monologues, dialogue, sketches, screenplays – we’ll be inviting writers to come along with short examples of your writing to be read and discussed on Writers’ Nights.

August 2019’s meeting was a Writers’ Night.

We featured playwright and poet Simon Jenner, in discussion about his work with a reading of his first short play Stemming the Flow, an encounter between Byron and Keats, with Simon as Byron, Russell Shaw as Keats and Philippa Hammond as the Doctor, a reading by Simon of his latest piece My Shit Year and some in depth group discussion on the writing and reading of the works.

We’ll be featuring more play readings over the autumn and winter – please let us know if you have a piece you would like to propose for a reading at a meeting.

Philippa  chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk

Numbers

Mercury Theatre Productions

Oxford University National Tour Production

Written and directed by Alex Blanc
Featuring
Jack: Henry Waddon
Michael: Joe Woodman
Brianna: Abi Harindra

Rialto Theatre, Brighton (Edinburgh preview)

‘… a lighthearted, honest look at male mental health in the 21st century, and we’re really proud to be working in association with the UK’s leading mental health charity SANE on the production. It aims to show that recovery is possible; in the midst of a crisis in mental health, Numbers’ core message is one of hope.’ (producers)

We think we’ve seen this before – three young actors, three chairs, an Edinburgh-focussed hour on a black box stage. But this goes above and beyond expectations. Writer/director Alex Blanc’s tale of three troubled young people is sharply observed and written in a fluent, natural voice.

A therapy group’s a classic storytelling setting. We’re the other members of the circle, hearing Jack and Michael sharing their stories of who they are and what’s happening to them, with the message that boys too suffer emotional distress and tortured self image.

The writing slips between monologues and conversations, with Jack sometimes commenting on the story and moving the scenes along. On a directorial note, it’s sometimes a little on the nose – characters saying how they feel in an appropriate tone of voice – and a more contradictory reading of the lines might add intrigue and deeper layers, while at times, rapid speaking meant words and meaning were difficult to catch. That great performance energy and a very simple pared down staging kept the pace zipping along, while the few issues with the lighting can be easily polished ready for Edinburgh.

As Brianna, Abi Harindra’s sincere, giving performance is the initially ‘all about me’ girlfriend who gradually comes to a deeper understanding of what’s happening and matures into her new more adult self.

There’s ambiguity too in Michael’s story, Joe Woodman’s tightly-wound portrayal of the all too familiar tale of a gay teen rejected by his parents and seen as a problem to be solved by their church. Is he telling the truth, though?

In the lead role, Henry Waddon’s Jack is a young man struggling to deal with life. Little setbacks, a lost football match, trigger a spiral into depression, anxiety and bulimia. Waddon delivers a physically relaxed and vocally assured exploration of explosive emotional depths engagingly flavoured with a sweet sense of humour. One to watch.

The Numbers tour continues:

Edinburgh Fringe, C Aquila Temple: 1-26th Aug
Oxford, Old Fire Station: 4-6th September

Philippa Hammond

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