There are few more entertaining ways to spend an evening than in the company of a cache of short plays. Offering a very different experience to a full length, two or three act production, short sharp bursts of theatre can be energising, thought-provoking, and if nothing else, the chances are high that you will enjoy at least part of your night out. The “not putting all your eggs in one basket” theatre experience.
That said, it’s not often that short works by established, internationally successful playwrights are made available to the theatre-going public. I don’t recall a night of Shakespearian Shorts being advertised in recent times, and even contemporary, native playwrights rarely have their shorter plays staged for the viewing public in any serious way.
So this week’s staging of two of Neil LaBute’s short plays, The Possible and Strange Fruit by Momentum Acting Studio is a treat not to be missed. The addition of a third short play, The Morning After by Louis CK gives the evening, advertised as a ménage à trois of a wedding, an affair and a one-night stand, a rounded feeling, and sits well with the two short LaButes.
Being part of Dublin’s International Gay Theatre Festival, the three plays each had distinct LGBT themes, but there was never a feeling of being bashed over the head with a rainbow coloured bat. The overall experience was one of smoothly acted and professionally stage-managed productions on simply, but effectively, designed sets.
In terms of playwriting, the quality was arguably not as consistent. The first of the three plays, The Possible, like many of Neil LaBute’s other plays, left this theatre-goer questioning (not for the first time) this celebrated American playwright’s ability to write plausible women’s dialogue. It’s pretty impressive to make a storyline feel dragged out over a timeline as short as The Possible‘s, but – guess what – it’s possible. The second LaBute play, Strange Fruit, was far more engaging; the storyline touching, the dialogue true. But then this two-hander was for two men.
The third play of the night, The Morning After, was a delightful vignette of awkwardness – and one where the writer, American comedian Louis CK, clearly has a handle on credible female dialogue. In an intriguing twist of artistic creation, this short play originated in Horace and Pete, a web series created and written by Louis CK which itself was inspired by such celebrated plays as Abigail’s Party.
Overall, this night of short plays was a great example of how a night of short plays should be done. Thematically linked, theatrically similar, the three plays, although different in many ways, flowed evenly, pulled together on a common thread of slick, skilful production. Recommended.
The Possible, Strange Fruit and The Morning After run until 6th May 2017 at The Players’ Theatre in Trinity College.
See www.gaytheatre.ie for more.
(c) Sheena Lambert
Sheena Lambert is a writer from Dublin. Her second novel, The Lake, is published by HarperCollins. A staged reading of her play Glanaphuca will take place in Dalkey in June, 2017.