11 September 2016

Theatre Madness Festival 2016

Last night, I spent my evening watching 4 plays at FAITH Drama's Theatre Madness Festival, as well as watching performances from Gbemisola Ikumelo and Rebirth Dance Network, a short film by Alexia Amissah-Larbi, all hosted by the absolutely hilarious David Ajao. The plays themselves were all incredible, and I'm going to talk about each of them in detail below, but I just wanted to give a quick mention to Gbemisola Ikumelo for her AMAZING spoken word piece called "Hustle" which was all about the good, the bad and the ugly parts of being a creative person in London. I really don't know much about poetry, but I know enough to know that what Gbemi did was exceptional! She also gave a lovely speech-type-thing in the final clip from Alexia's short film, about FAITH Drama over the last 10 years. But enough about the in-between sections, let's talk about the plays themselves!

Holnap House - Megan Fellows
Holnap House was about a group of residents of a London council estate fighting to save their homes from demolition. The characters were very realistic and it didn't take much imagination to see each of their stories just from what they were saying, and I loved that it was funny and serious at the same time. They used a tower of cardboard jenga to represent the tower block they lived in, and every time a character left the stage they removed a block, which I thought was both well thought out and beautifully symbolic. Talking of beautifully symbolic, did you know that 'Holnap' is actually Hungarian for 'tomorrow'? Nor did I until it was mentioned in the piece! They explain that there were originally 3 blocks - 2 of which had already been knocked down (their names meant 'today' and 'yesterday' but I forget what they were actually called!). Overall, I thought Megan did a fantastic job (especially since she had to rewrite the whole thing at short notice!) and I can't wait to see what she does in the future!

The Lost and Found - Darrel Draper
The Lost and Found showed 3 young people doing community service by clearing up a church hall, being supervised by the calm and collected Vicar, and the irate (and heavily pregnant) Miss Saunders. This was definitely one of the funniest plays of the evening, because the characters were all perfect caricatures of different kind of people that we all come across in life - it was a bit like one of those Facebook pages that does "Everyone Knows A..."! Despite having very minimal set and props, the location of the story was made clear through the speech, and made it really entertaining to watch! It was clearly a funny piece of writing, but the cast really brought it to life and clearly enjoyed performing what Darrel had created - I would love to see a longer version!

Reality Check - Kerri McLean
Kerri McLean's winning play 'Reality Check' told the story of a young man who was running from the police after staging a protest about the fact his brother had been killed while in police custody - he goes to stay with his cousin and her flatmate, who has an interesting take on the situation... I can see exactly why this won both the judges' award and the audience award, because it was outrageously funny, whilst having a really poignant message behind it. When I say outrageously funny, I really mean to put emphasis on the outrageous - there were jokes about everything from alcohol to ISIS, but it was all in good taste and gave a really good result in the end. I would have LOVED to see a full length version of this play, and can't wait to see where it goes next - congratulations to Kerri for winning, and for creating such a wonderfully current piece of theatre!

Baptazia - Isaac 'Icey' Tomiczek
I was originally quite confused about Baptazia, but I eventually realised that it's not meant to be realistic or present day or any of that - to my knowledge, it's based in some kind of dystopian future world, where music is scarce. I loved the almost game-show like element to it, and each of the characters was really funny in their own way. I liked the fact it was different to the others in that it was more fantastical, talking about 'quests' and 'heroes', but still carried a political message - the media can lie. (I realise that in this context I'm technically the media, but whatever). I loved one particular line so much that I wrote it down - "don't trust the papers, trust the vibe you get". That got both a laugh and a knowing groan from the audience, which is very, very telling. 'Baptazia' has a lot of potential, so I'm sure both the play and Isaac himself have very bright futures ahead!

A huge well done to the actors: William Frazer, Charlotte Chinn, Veronica Beatrice Lewis, Mark Ota and Luke Wilson, who not only performed 4 outstanding plays, but rehearsed all of them in just 10 hours! A huge thank you also to Will Howard and everyone at FAITH Drama for letting me come and review your wonderful event!

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