As the rain dried around Leicester Square, eight new short plays began at the Tristan Bates Theatre. Stemming from their success at the Ink Festival in Suffolk, The Feast from the East arrived in London for their first showing in the capital, and thoroughly impressed.
The evening spanned just over two hours with an interval and started with Another Suitcase, Another Hall, a satirical comedy of an Evita rehearsal by acclaimed writer Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill) which set the tone for an evening filled with laughter, emotion and potent themes such as; love, belonging, identity, suicide and acceptance.
Following this was Invisible Irene by Jackie Carreira, which tackled the process of evolving in to middle age. A one women performance with good catch lines, but an even more powerful message of becoming no-one.
Next up was Ping Pong Club; beginning as a radio play, the story successfully took to the stage via direction from Tim Bentinck. Exploration into male chauvinism and belonging alongside compelling use of light and sound made this short play an incredibly enjoyable experience.
The last before the interval, After Prospero, while slightly on the nose, was still a poignant take on society as two sisters contemplated their lives in light of their fathers death.
Post interval, the audience was treated to four more marvellous performances and writing exposé. That’s Great by Shaun Kitchener perfectly captured the painful experience of unrequited love with brilliantly British humour. Nina’s Not Okay, a young students empowering tale of living life for yourself was followed by Wellington, a feminist feat based around the Royal Wedding to which anyone can relate.
Mixed up by James McDermott was performed by Will Howard (the performer of the evening also starring in Ping Pong and That’s Great) and questioned gender identity in an amusing, endearing and engrossing way, leaving the audience itching for more.
The evening closed on A Selfish Boy – certainly the most emotional story on display. Suicide, parents and the struggles of growing up were all pondered as time shifted effortlessly from the 70s to present day.
On top of the fantastic plays, there was efficient use of set props and changes as well as versatile and unique performances by all actors, noticeably Ed Jones (Another Suitcase, Another Hallway and That’s Great!) – a natural comic – and Holly Ashman (Ping Pong Club and Wellington) showing impressive range.
Finally, the biggest applause must be reserved for the INK Festival team lead by Artistic Director Julia Sowerbutts for curating eight effortlessly entertaining pieces and making a real claim for short plays to be a main player in the London theatre scene.