The Brisbane theatre you have when you aren’t having theatre

The Short+Sweet Festival

Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre

August 21 – 23

The Short+Sweet Festival moved to the Brisbane Powerhouse this week, where ten Theatre entrants performed to an enthusiastic audience of family and friends (gathering by the over the top laugher and screaming as applause garnered by some pieces).

From the opening act “To Write My Epitaph” the story of Edgar Allen (just Edgar Allen, no Poe)’s life and work, told in verse, to the final frivolity of “Orgasma and the Intergalactic Sky Cock”, a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” meets “Spaceballs” (with a touch of “Alice in Wonderland”) farce, the eclectic nature of Short+Sweet’s first Brisbane Theatre Strand was clear. There was even some drag c/o Orgasma herself and also the Virgin Mary in “Being Jesus”, which sees Mary, Jesus, God, Judas and Satan gathering for a birthday celebration with Jerry Springer style results.

Indeed, the Strand Four plays certainly offered something for everyone, including ensemble and monologue pieces. Even the monologues offered audiences a range of realisations, from the frenetic chaos of “Captain Everything” to the funny fly on the wall musing of Edmund Hilary in “The Rise of Sir Edmund”, which shares the explorer’s frustration with that whining hippy, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and search for the perfect synonyms to describe the white of his Everest views.

A clear and deserved audience favourite (and one of the two works selected to play in repeat performance at the Gala Finals at the Brisbane Powerhouse at the end of September) was the comedy “Bitches”, about two warring dog show owners and their prize-winning bitches, played to canine comic perfection by Bonnie Mullins and Xanthe Jones, including some ad-libbed reactions to a mobile phone audience interruption (#whatiswrongwithpeople). Joining it, from this strand will be “Going Viral”, a topical look at what can go wrong when well-intentioned parents attempt to take charge of their daughter’s online self ahead of her Facebook eligible 13th birthday.

While clearly it is difficult for some audience members to stay focussed for even these shortest of timeframes, the ten minutes, bite-sized running times are more than just a novelty, adding to the festival’s unique appeal; if a show is not your thing, you only have to wait it out for a short time until another in underway. And with another strand yet to show next week, there is certainly a lot from which to choose, the largest number the festival has ever seen and testament to the strength and dynamism of Brisbane’s thriving independent theatre scene.

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