Sky Blue Seventh Annual Theatre Challenge
Jack Studio Theatre, Brockley, London – until 1 September
Reviewed by Lisa Harlow
The premise is to showcase five very different plays in one evening, following the shortlisting of 274 new short plays from 16 different countries, allowing new writers the opportunity to have their shows performed. Step in Sky Blue theatre who have been supporting and producing work from both emerging and established writers from around the world since 2007. Running through the week, audience members are asked to rank each play in order based only on the writing and not the acting, with the winning writer receiving the accolade of the Anne Bartram Playright Award (formerly known as the Audience Appreciation award). Anne Bartram was a playwright and founder of Sky Blue theatre who sadly passed away this year.
2045 by Scott Lummer: a vision of the human race merging itself with artificial intelligence, apparently inspired by a Time magazine cover. Although the positives are presented early on as we share time with the inventor’s family, the not so positive implications and consequences gradually reveal themselves through slips from the daughter who has undergone the ‘first wave’ migrations. Micro versus macro ethics play out- should keeping a family together be more important than preventing potential disaster on a macro level for mankind?
Tagged by Jim Moss: taking inspiration from a Pokemon Go generation, you find yourself living within a nightmare with the main character with minimal dialogue for some time. Interesting concept but certainly delivery is reliant on the encapturing acting.
Teatime by Sheila Cowley: within war destruction and tragedy in an unknown time and place we find surreal characters and situations, as if you’ve suddenly begun viewing through a psychedelic telescope. Amusing if bizarre.
Accident of Birth by Trevor Suthers: the acting was superb, and yes, I shouldn’t be letting that influence my decision, but this was a very well written piece of theatre. Harrowing and steady to unravel its clues, I found myself siding with the most unexpected of characters in spite of his pathological history, weaving within his yearning and feeling his rejection as he explores the human need to know your past, your DNA and be loved.
Bunnies and Wolves by Elspeth Tilley: after thinking this play again fits within the overarching theme of the insidious influence of technology in our lives in this evening’s performances, this piece of writing actually fired spiky, uncomfortable questions regarding the ethics of private funding having any place in the issue of healthcare. All delivered in a completely enjoyable manner – great fun…..somehow!
Pleasantly enjoyable evening to begin with but grew in its substance and hold of the audience, all presented by a dynamic and engaging Sky Blue Theatre host. I look forward to hearing more from a couple of these writers and next year’s challenge.