Friday, 29 July 2011

24:7 Keep It Simple

Well it seems only appropriate that my last visit to the 2011 24:7 theatre festival should start with a series of 'lasts'.
A last minute phone call (to tell me I had become an Auntie!), led to a late last minute jog across Manchester to the Midland hotel. Arrived with about a minute to spare and raced down to the venue, to find myself in the middle of a conference! Ran back up the stairs to find there had been a last minute change of room and I was the last audience member to arrive. Quick dash up a floor, greeted at the lift doors and escorted to the performance space where they were holding the production for my arrival! At last I sat down, lights dimmed and the performance started!
Today's offering was Keep It Simple by Dick Curran, who wrote last year's excellent Islanders. It was about a family coming together on the eve of the daughter's wedding - the happy couple Sabena and Gawain, bride's mum Kate and her partner the safe and dependable Doug, and bride's dad Ted, an unreliable but charming poet. The main focus is on the interaction between Doug, Ted and Kate over the course of that night and the following morning.
It was an amusing play, with some nicely observed set pieces, and fine performances from the cast, especially Dennis Jobling as Ted and John Sumner as Doug. I particularly related to the part where Doug and Ted were reminiscing about how things had changed since they were young, when you had one phone in the hallway and TV stopped at midnight - which kind of gives away my age bracket! And the initial powerplays between Dad and stepdad were funny, but also very realistic. But as a whole the play didn't quite hang together for me, and certain plot devices felt a little clunky and superfluous. Maybe a few 'tweaks' before taking it further, but it definitely has a life after the festival.
Despite my minor criticisms, it was an enjoyable hour, and a pleasant way to round off my 24:7 experience. Well done to all concerned.

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