Day One (Geordie accent) of the 2018 One Act Play Festival. And it opened well.

First up was Hog the Limelight’s production of Jilted Lovers Helpline by John Grim.  I’d like to congratulate Mary and Jasmine (Christine Edge and Tracey Jones) for putting me off helplines for life.  Though I did learn some rather original ways to deal with an errant spouse.  I was also amazed that the ladies were so unflappable, despite the emotional (and sometimes physical) carnage going on at the other end of the phone. If you can calmly eat a hobnob and listen to Grandma smacking her lipstick (but not for grandad), then you’re a stronger person than I’ll ever be.  The play went at a cracking pace and had some wonderfully dry lines.  The setting was the perfect office, swivel chairs, lots of laughter and Captain Hook using his prosthesis as a dough hook – an image that would never normally cross my mind.  It’s definitely part of the NHS Family care & Planning service, that the right hon Jeremy Hunt must never touch.

Heart in the Ground by Douglas Hill was the second play this evening entered by Rushen Players.  Sensitive lighting, effective costumes and evocative Irish music opened this piece, which was performed by Mollie Workman and Michael Williams.   It’s the story of Karen and Lee who are poor farmers from Derry. Somewhere in their very recent past, they lost their three-week-old Catherine to cot death.  Their lives are shredded by the loss, but also by the law that says their daughter must be buried on church land amongst stone and strangers, and not on their farm forever in their care.  The shadow of Karen’s brother looms but despite the vicious arguments and the subsequent revelations, Karen learns her strengths and Lee recognises the need to be kind.  The final scene with the tiny coffin was a tribute to the cast and technical team.  Their commitment to the subject and the understanding of the piece made it a pleasure, albeit a difficult, one to watch.

In contrast we finished the evening with CCTV by Derek Webb performed by the Service Players.  Alex, Jane and Richie (Freddie Hall, Kimberley Quine and Mark Tyley) are the frontline defence at the Oaks Shopping Centre (and I blame austerity).  In the event of a retail related catastrophe, (in this instance he was called Keith) attached to a child’s cap gun, they are what stand in the way of the Swat team that might have saved our lives.  This crack team made up of Sudoku Alex who struggles with a tie and has a spiritual link to Sid James, Richie who’s microphone voice really should clear every sensible person to a safe distance, and Jane who can’t leave her shopping even when she’s breaking up a fight.  It was just any old typical day, until Nigel Thijs as unskilled bank robber Keith, lost his ‘fick’ team of cohorts to one of the best Front of House announcements I’ve ever heard.  Between them they delivered some great one liners, and looked like they were enjoying every minute.  It was a lively and entertaining production, and a great finish to the night.

  • Helen Clarke

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