Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Short+Sweet showcase of Dubai theatrical talent

Heart in the Ground, one of those plays with excellent acting

Dubai's thespians answered the call of the second Short+Sweet Dubai short play festival with a response that required an extra week to accommodate this year. Some of the best of our city's growing theatre scene, as well as a fresh pool of talented actors, writers and directors, made it to the three-week festival, entertaining audiences with 10-minute-or-less plays that ranged from the cringe-worthy (overuse of sound and light effects, gaggy and/or shouty acting, loitering pace, preachy dialogue, predictable plot) to the glorious (the opposite of the aforementioned).

The Romeo and Juliet spoof

I had to miss the Top 30 Week 2 plays because of an improv show of my own, but I was able to see almost everything else. Many fellow improv actors were involved onstage or backstage, though, and the popular vote eventually went to a Romeo and Juliet spoof put together by some of them. Among the theatre groups that presented their plays during the festival, I felt that Third Half Theatre pushed through the most consistently impressive performance with their stagings of Badke Bhaiya, The Man Who Was Music, and It's All Been Done Before, followed closely by American School of Dubai's A Charming Affair and Controlling Interest. Backstage's Last Drinks and Theatrics' Noreen were also among the better plays over the three weeks.

Alice and the Tightrope Walker, by Loom Ensemble

Experimental theatre got a significantly higher representation this year, with three entries by Loom Ensemble and one by Resuscitation Theatre. Another technique that reached new heights this year was the monologue, George Mitton's Farewell, Francis standing out among them. And a special note for good writing by a locally-based author should be added for Frank Dullaghan's clever penning of DNA.

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