Venue: Higher Ground, 9-15 Light Square, Adelaide
Season: 7pm nightly to Saturday 29th October, plus a 2pm matinee on the Saturday
Tickets: adult $15/conc $10
Competition entrants were asked to submit a 3 to 10 minute long monologue, with the only criteria being that it had to make reference to a shoe box in some way. The sixteen submitted scripts were then judged, in Australia by David Jobling and Tracey Korsten, and in England by Guy Masterson and Rebecca Vaughan, with the winning seven being produced and directed by Alison Kershaw and Tamara Bennetts. The reasoning behind this competition was that, although there are other competitions for writers, they end with a prize, but the works never get performed. The organisers, Alison Kershaw and Tamara Bennetts, thought this to be rather a waste of effort and so this competition ends with a selected number of the works being performed to an audience.
With the judging done and the winners announced, Kershaw and Bennetts cast and directed the successful scripts. Chelsea Diprose performed Carla Rich's Little Bit of Heaven and Ben Brooker's Wolves, Jonathon Johnston performed Anthony Berry's The Strange Man in the Car and Mark Taylor's No House, Haydn McComas performed Nick Milde's Innocent Bystander and Glen R. Johns's Man in Shed and Faye Dawson Wise performed Mandy Treagus's Heart.
The variety of responses to the brief is remarkable. There is a man seeking his birth parents, who abandoned him but kept his younger sister, the woman who blames everybody but herself for her problems, the man who longs for the past when he and his son were close, the man adopted by rats, now caught in a limbo and unacceptable to both the rat and human worlds, an old lady close to death with a few naughty secrets, a woman who collects all sort of odd things that she finds, and an old man wishing for the past.
These very different stories showed some most inventive minds at work and, as it took the four illustrious members of the judging panel to reduce a field of sixteen down to seven winners, I am certainly not going to attempt to label any one of them as the best. Each has a lot to offer and Kershaw and Bennetts have worked well with their actors to make good use of the intimacy of the downstairs performance area at Higher Ground. Some good characterisations and convincing performances by the four actors complete the package, bring these seven diverse people to life, giving us a tantalisingly brief glimpse of their lives.
This is a most worthwhile endeavour and, if all goes well, marks the start of a project that will continue in future years. The only problem was that a lack of funds prevented extensive advertising, attracting more people and allowing a longer run into a second week. Hopefully this will be remedied by some smart benefactor next year, allowing this competition to grow and prosper, thereby offering opportunities for many more up and coming writers and performers.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.