SHORT+SWEET 2013 – THEATRE – Wildcard

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

22/06/2013 - 22/06/2013

Production Details

What’s more choice than Short+Sweet?

Short+Sweet in association with Development Programmes at THE EDGE presents

Short+Sweet – Dance, Song and Theatre 2013

28 May – 30 June, at the Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, THE EDGE.

Short+Sweet is back and it’s taking over Auckland ten minutes at a time!

Come join us for five weeks of fast and furious, bite sized performances featuring some of Auckland’s best writers, directors, choreographers, dancers and actors.

And to celebrate our fourth year of Short+Sweet we’ve got something new for you. We’re not only bringing back Short+Sweet Dance and Short+Sweet Theatre but we’re premiering our new favourite, Short+Sweet Song – it’s musical theatre time!

Whichever genre you choose, it’s a night at the theatre where you never know what’s going to happen next and you get to vote for your favourite performance at the end of the night.

Short+Sweet – The biggest little festival in the world – produces hundreds of the best ten minute plays, dance works and musical theatre pieces from across the globe each year and hits Auckland for its fourth year in a row this May/June.

Each night Short+Sweet presents ten performances, each no longer than ten minutes. A feast of styles and subjects, the next new work is only ever ten minutes away and there is always something for everyone.

‘It’s exciting; it’s a great night out for the audience and it’s the perfect taster for someone who might never have been to dance or theatre before. It’s only ever 10 minutes to the next piece so if you don’t like that one you don’t have to wait long until the next one starts!’ Says Sums Selvarajan, Festival Producer.

As well as presenting some of the best ten-minute theatre in the world; Short+Sweet has also opened doors and launched careers of many artists across the globe.

‘It’s a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved, to try something new, showcase their talent and work with people they may have never met before’ says Jonathan Hodge, Artistic Director of Theatre and Song.

Within the three genres of Dance, Theatre and Song the performances are split into groups. Dance and Theatre both have a top 20 split into Week one and two and one wildcard group performing once only on the middle Saturday. Song has one just one week for its premiere season. 

The Top 20 (or 10 for Song), perform from Tuesday – Saturday (ten shows per week) while the Wildcard shows (Dance and Theatre) get one matinee performance on Saturday to strut their stuff and wow the audiences and judges as they decide who makes it through to the Gala Final.

On the final Sunday the best ten of the season (decided by the audience and judges) are performed one last time. The judges choose their best production, playwright, director and actors and the people’s choice award for the whole season is also announced.

‘The audience play a huge part in picking the winner. It’s very exciting for everyone and it’s going to be a fantastic three weeks’ says Jonathan ‘So make sure you are there to cast your vote’.

If you prefer watching the 100 metre sprint to the full marathon, love the drama of Project Runway, the pressure of Master Chef, and the talent of X Factor get down to Short+Sweet.

Funny, moving, absurd, touching and now musical, you can expect the unexpected with Short+Sweet — so are you in, or are you out?

Full Festival programme available here

Ticketing Information 

Tickets $25 adult, $20 concession (concession available for 65+, students and children under 14 years) and $35 Gala Finals from 0800 BUY TICKETS or (service fees apply) 

Group Bookings (more than 6 people) – Call 09 357 3354. 

For media enquiries, please contact Alex Ellis on 0275026542 or

Performance Schedule  

Short+Sweet Theatre

Tuesday 18 – Sunday 30 June

Theatre for the easily distracted. Short+Sweet Theatre – the fast and furious festival where Auckland’s best writers, directors and actors present 10 minute plays with all the impact of a full length show. Maybe you’ll laugh, maybe you’ll cry; it’s all about to happen, ten minutes at a time.

Week 1
Tuesday 18 June – Saturday 22 June 2013 (Tues – Wed 7pm, Thurs – Sat 8pm)

Saturday, 22 June (3pm)

Week 2
Tuesday 25 June – Saturday 29 June 2013 (Tues – Wed 7pm, Thurs – Sat 8pm)

Gala Final:  Sunday 30 June (3pm & 7.30pm) 

A fruitful night

Review by Joselyn Khor 23rd Jun 2013

Short + Sweet Theatre’s Wildcard offers newer participants the chance to prove themselves in front of an expectant crowd. For this year’s instalment the performers, directors and writers alike prove they are capable of living up to this challenge.

Most of the stories are told with much enthusiasm and heart from a diverse range of actors. A few of these talented folk skip the semi-professional labelling entirely, landing squarely in the arena of ‘expert’, such is their capacity to touch the audience by leaving powerful impressions.

Geeta, written and directed by Rina Patel, delivers to us a rising star in the form of Anjula Prakash. The Third Person, written by Dan Borengasser and directed by Mike Lowe, allows fun and imagination into the second half, as their interpretation of a narrator stepping into real life seems implausible on paper, but works incredibly well on stage.

In the first show of 10, we meet the Antichrist, played by Scott Hayden, in The Antichrist Cometh. His portrayal of the dastardly evil figure foretold in biblical texts is a far cry from what one might expect. Here we see a jovial and lively Antichrist with a wife who clearly loves him. Hayden’s performance is tinged with the iridescent glow of a man happy being in the spotlight.

Erica Kroger, playing his wife, makes a memorable entrance in her striking red dress against the dark surroundings. Director Rebekah Bourhill harnesses the power of first impressions. Both actors carry a lightness of spirit in their performance, their natural camaraderie making them an easy-going pair. Even though the stage is bare, David MacGregor’s snappy, humorous script is delivered with zest. The thought process of the Antichrist draws laughter from the audience as he goes about interpreting his own destiny via logical deductions.

The second play, Jim,turns those smiles upside down. Here director Claire Noble takes a heavy-handed emotional approach to a weighty matter of illness. To follow such a light-hearted first show with something so emotionally charged means the audience doesn’t have time to adjust to the serious issue at hand.

Noble’s direction is a bit hard to follow. She attempts a split-screen style of storytelling, which is difficult to pull off in the context of theatre. She has the two actors playing husband and wife next to each other on stage going about their chores/lounge activities, whilst taking turns telling their tale of the husband’s bad news to the audience. The moments of confusion occur when they begin finishing each other’s sentences. It seems they are in the same room, and then it appears they aren’t … and then they are? But Noble’s casting of the two actors is smart. They seem to be an ordinary, everyday couple to which people can easily relate.

Richard McGregor’s script pushes for the audience’s sympathy a bit too much. This appears challenging for the husband, played by Rex McIntosh, who stretches his acting abilities to the edge. Trying to force out tears while dealing with lines that seem a tad unnatural makes the emotions seem forced. His efforts are rewarded in the final scene though: a moving moment due his impressive final push. He digs deep, finding a sincere way of showing vulnerability.

Travel In Draos follows the story of a loved-up couple on a train getting their mini-honeymoon interrupted by a strange man with an accent. Paul Roukchan’s attempt at a Russian accent is commendable but also distracting as it is quite hard to understand Sydney Walls’ script. The ending has me confused as I miss out on hearing crucial details in the plot.

The couple played by Renee Sheridan and Daniel Pujol seem unconvincing, with Pujol rather dismissive of Sheridan’s overt affection. He appears – at times – quite uncomfortable over her clinginess. For these three actors, there is an added challenge of having to be animated and appealing while being seated throughout the entire play.

Due to the static range of motions, the story – which seems interesting enough on paper – never really develops into a piece of theatre that is rewarding to watch. Roukchan, as the Witch Finder, has energetic, sinister moments which are quite intriguing. But, overall, director Kinloch Anstiss’ sedentary staging means the piece lacks a certain oomph.

Geeta’s First World, however, is a marvel from the get-go. Anjula Prakash appears before us, dishevelled, hair a mess, dragging along a shoeless leg. This young actress carries herself with the confidence of a seasoned pro; her energy is astounding. Her performance illuminates Rina Patel’s reflective, funny and thought-provoking script. As director, Rina Patel’s staging works wonders.

Using only her physicality, Prakash tells the tale of a young woman suffering from an identity crisis with pathos, sincerity and self-assurance. Patel allows her to show her chameleon-like charm. From the stereotypical South Auckland bro – “Yeah, nah, yeah” – to the traditional Indian mother, her tonal inflections are impressive and convincing. She also appears a natural at gesturing and posturing for effect. The essence of theatre in its raw minimalist form shines through with this stunning performance. She enchants the audience with an impressive stage presence that will stay with me for a while yet.

In Somewhere Between The Sky And The Sea, director Jessica Suo follows the zero use of props trend, relying purely on the skills of the actors. Alex Broun’s story about a womanising composer is allowed breathing space with the performers developing the story at a comfortable pace.

Greg Bailey plays hipster composer Liam Baker as a soft-spoken, boyishly charming Lothario who doesn’t even know he’s charming the ladies. This charm translates to the audience as he depicts an obliviously charismatic Baker who is confident but vulnerable at the same time.

Here he is pitted against two opposing female characters. One a redheaded femme fatale, played by T-Ann Manora; the other a sweet young blonde: Madeleine “with three ‘e’s,” played by Rebecca McFadzien. Bailey’s Baker may be a liar, but somehow his inherent innocence leaves the audience quite sympathetic to his plight at being torn between the two beauties.

McFadzien carries a grace with her onstage making it easy to watch her flow effortlessly through the scene. She deliver’s Broun’s lines with endearing eagerness and seems comfortable onstage. This is different from Manora’s somewhat staunch portrayal of Stephanie.

Bailey’s seemingly innocent Baker is a great balance to McFadzien’s heady mix of whimsy, life and delightful energy. Staging is well choreographed with the interaction between Baker and his two ladyloves transitioning smoothly.

Games, written and directed by Renee Pascalle Brierley and Kacie Stetson, shows what sibling rivalry can come to when there is a winner and a loser. Sophie Alice Bloomfield plays placid Ashley while Renee Pascalle Brierley depicts an Imogen who appears jerky, with much pent up energy. Even though Bloomfield portrays Ashley with less vigour, the calmer depiction of her plight is easier to watch. She steals the show by letting the natural emotions flow through.

This Could Be The Start begs the question: Can Wellingtonians and Aucklanders get along? Lisette de Jong’s storytelling attempts to answer that in a roundabout way, trudging from an apartment to WINZ and back again.

De Jong plays a whiny 40-year-old Sarah struggling to deal with her sudden unemployment. Tom Kane as the effervescent new flatmate overdoes the big persona of a Wellingtonian but director Robyn Donnelly may have wanted this caricature. The result is a stark juxtaposition between the two types: the overly optimistic Wellingtonian and “Miss negative swearing person”: the supposed mark of an Aucklander. The 10-minutes goes to Kane with his overzealous expressiveness and slapstick comedy sweeping away De Jong’s character. What eventuates is a madhouse of Kane’s antics. He is jarringly energetic which makes the dynamic over-the-top performance a bit much to take in. 

Baggage slows the pace of action right down with Jeniffer Matter and Johnathan Callinan’s dour characters. Tom Jensen’s script moves at a languid pace. Save for the actors’ delightful English accents, the play doesn’t really pick up any momentum, except near the end. Placed as it is after the drama of This Could Be The Start, the languorous performances in Baggage don’t help to pull the crowd back in from the drama and spike the audience’s imagination.

In The Third Person, two brilliant actors are pitted against each other in a playful story about what happens when the narrator of a story enters into the picture. Mike Lowe, as both the director and narrator, does a wonderful job casting Lauren Porteous as the troubled lady in red. Dan Borengasser’s script is sharp, witty and funny.

The concept of having your narrator talking directly to you as well as about you is fun to watch. Like a puppeteer manipulating strings, Porteous is made to act out the narrator’s directions as he accordingly addresses these actions to the audience. Well-devised and directed, Borengasser’s story is given great life by the impressive acting duo.

Lowe has a smooth, booming voice that carries well to the back of the room. His Narrator character is also endearing to watch. Porteous plays the role of exasperated wife well. Her voice is somewhat high-pitched but not annoying, which lends a convincing edge to the somewhat comical situation she finds herself in. Without these two powerhouses, weighing a bit more on the capable shoulders of Lowe, the story could’ve become a charade. However, the outcome is 10-minutes of delightful acting whcich convinces us that there is more than meets the eye when the voice in our head comes to life. 

Duelling Judges, written by Rex McGregor, is the last play. A smartly dressed Simon Clarke sits opposite the force that is Tatiana Hotere. The story is a bit convoluted and hard to follow with the overly-complicated legal jargon, but the two actors hold their own and are great to watch. Especially Clarke, who plays the role of a domineering, control-freak convincingly.

The staging becomes a tad strange when Clarke orders Hotere to sit on the chair she places atop a table, all this occurring as he turns his back to the audience and watches this unfold. It is hard to follow Sarah Jansen’s direction. Despite an escalation in the sparring actors’ forceful deliveries I am not entirely sure what is happening but the ultimate burst of energy from the two actors releasing their pent up sexual frustration is still a nice touch. This final bang ending brings smiles to many faces, rounding up the evening nicely.

Short + Sweet Theatre Wildcard as a whole is a fruitful night of standout performances. They may be newcomers but a few of them prove they’re capable of delivering more than a 10-minute show allows for. Anjula Prakash’s stunning performance and Rina Patel’s remarkable script still have me in awe. It is certainly rewarding being able to walk away from a theatre still trying to find my breath after having it stolen by a magnificent performance.


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