As Lane Cove Theatre Company’s inaugural short play competition, In a Nutshell presented ten plays of ten minutes as an opportunity for local theatre makers to showcase their work to the Lane Cove community. Ten playwrights, eight directors, and more than a dozen actors offered brief pieces on love, death, veganism, technology, sport, and more!
The first play jumped straight into the theatrical atmosphere with a local theatre haunted by dead Shakespearean actors, this time Hamlet (Anthony Slaven), who require shooing away before the company is due to open their version of Oklahoma! Later, another man rises from the dead in Roger Reconstituted, written and directed by Wendy Crew, where a woman (Nicola Read) pays a service to bring her husband (Luke Denny) back from the dead for a quick catch-up about the disappointing state of the world.
The possibilities (or limitations) of technology came up again as a theme in Many Apps Make Light Living, written by Robert Ballinger and directed by Laura Buxton, featuring a young man (Slaven) obsessed with mediating his life with apps and a young woman (Samantha Camilleri) who tries to drag him into the tangible present. The love story then took a turn in Slow Dating by Adam Szudrich, a stand-out performance of the night, which saw Nicole Smith monologue a clever encounter at a speed-dating event that instigates a reflection on her marriage.
Another particularly well done short production came from The Interview, written by Ian Hart and directed by Trent Gardiner. An interview panel (Belinda Korner, Lochie Beh, and Gardiner) tread well-worn sexist lines of questioning when the interviewee (Cassie Mildwater) reveals her history of workplace harassment which ends in a dramatic water-throwing incident. In an unexpected twist, the interview was actually an audition and the interviewee impressed by standing up for herself and extricating herself with aplomb.
The ten minute format offers a unique opportunity to explore ideas quickly and often provide a sharp critique of the modern world. With such a range of genres including crime, comedy, romance, and mixes of them all, the short plays in the competition attempted to cover big ideas compressed into the highlights with some misses but more frequently success!
In a Nutshell ran at St Aidan’s from September 27th – 29th as part of the Lane Cove Festival