Horla, the resident company at the Rose & Crown Theatre, an Intimate 50 seat theatre pub venue in Hampton Wick, south London are staging a festival entitled “Just Desserts”, a series of 8 short plays by new and unknown writers.
These plays were found by advertising on the web. There were over a 100 scripts submitted from all over the world and the winning entries came from USA, Australia, UK and Japan. The theme of the eight plays is that Poetic Justice battles Cruel Fate.
The eight plays are performed over two nights so I only saw 4 of the plays. The first play “Skin Deep”(30 mins) by Alex Nicol, is said to be a satire on modern morals suggesting that ”if we’re content to continually ask someone else to do our dirty work we’ll eventually bear the consequences”. I have to say I found this play to be far too complex. I did not grasp fully what was happening and I found the shouting and screaming of the characters irritating. I’m sure there was something being said intelligently, but I was not intelligent enough to know for sure what it was!! The only conclusion I could come to was that it was a satire on citizens and government. That governments ask their citizens to do the most appalling acts on its behalf, such as war. Eventually the citizens wake up to the fact that they would be better off without governments and slowly strip them of their power, and eventually walk free. Congratulations to Posy Brewer, who played the Committee Person, and Nick Smithers, who played the Messenger, for the energy and conviction they brought to their performance of this difficult script.
The second play, “The Priest and His Love” (30 mins), adapted by Amy Jeavons & You-Ri Yamanaka, is a beautiful story that is brilliantly acted by You-Ri Yamanaka. This story concerns a Great Priest of eminent virtue who has no interest in the material world. He wants only to seek Nirvana. However, when he sees a beautiful woman he has to fight worldly desires if he is to enter the Pure Land. You-Ri Yamanaka, who moves around the stage with delightful grace, plays both the Priest and the beautiful woman. A wonderful 30 minutes of visual theatre.
The third play, “Walking Out” (20 mins) by Joan Wallace, is a charming and simple script concerning Bridget, a naïve Irish servant girl who falls for Thomas, a butcher. Thomas woos Bridget and eventually gets her into bed and then pregnant. But that is OK, says Father Flanging because she is to marry Thomas. However, the War gives Thomas an opportunity to make a decision about both their futures. This is an enjoyable play that is performed confidently by Dave Palfreyman as ‘Thomas’ and particularly by Irena Pearse as Bridget, who manages some wonderful facial expressions.
The fourth play, “Going to Grandma’s” (20 mins) by VE Kimberlin, is one of the most unusual dramas I’ve ever seen. It is set in a car with a dog called Bogey and a cat named Sphinx, both of whom are able to speak to each other, but not with their human companion, Mommy. Mommy, played by a man, is taking them to visit his mother, but as they get closer to their destination Bogey and Sphinx discover the real reason behind their visit to Grandma’s. Wow! This is a strange yet emotional drama that will keep you mesmerised and amazed. Ryan Anthony-Jones is adequate as Mommy, but Alastair Southey as ‘Bogey’ and Rebecca Kenyon as ‘Sphinx’ are superb. Their mannerisms perfectly capture the essence of the animals they are ‘imitating’ in a believable and loveable way.
“Just Desserts” is a mind blowing and refreshing evening of diverse theatre that is a must see for all serious lovers of drama.
The Rose & Crown theatre is only 30 minutes train ride from Waterloo station and is Zone 6 and it is only a minute from the station.
**Production photos by Dave Roberts