The call of seagulls, the click of needles, the rhythm of rhyme and more than a little of the sound of music. Our theatre editor, Nell Frizzell, reports back from this year’s brilliant 24 Hour Plays: Old Vic New Voices, supported by IdeasTap…
I once ate an entire loaf of bread in 24 hours. That’ s about the pinnacle of my time-tested tasks. So to see 39 emerging theatremakers create and perform six short plays in less time than it takes to watch a boxset of The West Wing is always incredible.
This year, the meet-and-greet took place in our very own IdeasTap HQ, with the actors introducing themselves, their props and their special talents. There were hula-hoops, some fairly free-form knitting, a nun and more backflips than an early Take That video. Not to mention a nice old sing-along and a double-ended “hanger”.
Then the writers were left to stew under the unforgiving light of a 6am deadline. Coffee was drunk, cigarettes were smoked, scenes were written and lines were cut. Cut to Sunday afternoon and rehearsals were in full swing. There were last-minute dashes for costumes, a little light line reallocation and enough pre-show adrenaline to power the National Grid.
So, let’s get the waiting out of the way and talk about the plays themselves. The night kicked off with the unlikely combination of fertility and Rodgers & Hammerstein. Trapp told the do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do tale of one couple’s struggle for sympathy and pregnancy in the mansion once used to film The Sound of Music. Top props to Vicki Lee Taylor for her rousing Julie Andrews impression.
Next up was Sophie Petzal’s Activate, a cynical look at a group of unlikely protestors and their madcap plan to do anything, for the sake of doing something. It also had the best hedonistic Doritos joke of the entire night.
The first half concluded with Cat Jones’ frankly brilliant play, The Natives. Written in verse and played straight, this look at unemployment, multiculturalism and industrial decline was a very powerful piece of theatre.
After the interval came Zoe Cooper’s Longshore Drift – a play about ordinance, origins and oranges. With a great comic turn by Haseeb Malik, an on-stage costume change and the only full snog, this play covered an ambitious scope of time through one woman’s sexual maturity.
The fifth play, Jon Barton’s Cinderland, was set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where wanderers flee a mysterious cull and women are a rare but subversive presence. Special mention must go to Jonathan Milshaw for sabotaging his own hand-knitted scarf in the name of drama.
The final play of the evening was David Byrne’s rollicking comedy Friends With Benefits. Haz Webb’s turn as Deb, the archetypal whisky-swilling Freudian-nightmare mum, was hilarious and the script was packed with more zingers than a branch of KFC.
And so, as they say, we came to the end. Congratulations to absolutely everyone who took part. It was a huge pleasure to see so many of our members rise to the challenge and deliver a slice of brilliance on the night. You all deserve a nap.
Photo by Alex Brenner.
For more articles, jobs and opportunities, visit the Performing Arts hub.