Friday, February 6, 2015

Between Us

Between Us plays at ATYP from February 4-21 2015. By the 2014 National Studio Writers and the 2014 ATYP Writer in Residence, directed by Sarah Parsons.

The Voices Project, for those not in the know, is a great initiative that ATYP put on every year. Some of the country's best young playwrights go away together for a week, tasked with writing a monologue for a young actor. Ten of the best pieces then form ATYP's first show of the year.

I love this project. I've seen it for for a few years now, and it's been so exciting to see the level of work produced. Sadly, I don't think Between Us, this year's showcase, quite lives up to the standard of previous years. There's some good work, and certainly that work that has potential, but I didn't leave wowed, as I have before.

The theme this year was “secrets”, and I wonder if this might have something to do with it. While the ten pieces presented definitely had distinct authorial voices, there was nevertheless a sort of sameness across them beyond thematic consistency. I think this might be because secrets are necessarily linked with confession – particularly when the art form being used is the monologue, which abets this confessional tone. Every piece was, in essence, a confession. While there's nothing wrong with this, it feels repetitive ten times in a row.

Between Us was staged in promenade – that is, the audience was active, following the actors around the space. Ultimately, I think this was a good choice, because it functioned to break up the showcase's repetitive confessions a little (even though as a lady of very little height, I generally dislike promenade theatre as I invariably get stuck behind someone super tall). While some of the actors pushed their performances a bit too hard, verging on overacting at times, overall, director Sarah Parsons did a fine job with the material.

This might not be the best ever instalment of the Voices Project, but there's definitely some potential in Between Us. It's a worthy project which supports and develops young artists, and I will always be excited to watch them grow.


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