A Promenade Of Shorts, Season 2 – Red Phoenix Theatre

A Promenade Of Shorts, Season 2 – Red Phoenix Theatre

“A Promenade of Shorts”, Red Phoenix Theatre’s opening production for the year has got 2023 off to a flying start with an impressive, ambitious effort, presenting nine, 10 minute ‘playlets’, performed by 27 of our leading amateur actors.

These entail audiences traipsing between three Holden Street Hindmarsh venues, which has required impeccable organization backstage.

The whole night reminds me of Alan Ayckbourn’s “House “ and “Garden” where both plays are presented simultaneously in back to back theatres, where the cast actually change plays midstream. Impeccable timing is vital, as actors scramble to be on time at each venue.

Here, it’s not quite as bad as YOU move, not the actors, with each venue mounting three shows one after the other, with the casts helping set up scenes.

“The Last Time We Saw Her” has Lynn Wilson as a senior officer manager attempting to explain her ‘coming out’ to her boss, Geoff Revell, who has little idea what she is talking about. Both give sterling performances underlining what depth of impressive acting talent we have here.

Meanwhile, “Free Activity Period” sees Emily Branford expertly perform Joyce Grenfell’s time- honoured monologue as a kindergarten teacher supervising an unruly class. Ms Branford, and Director Joh Hartog, must have had difficult moments deciding if the actor should mirror Ms Grenfell all the way, or improvise a slightly different approach. Happily, Ms Branford opts for the latter and it works well. “Sydney, don’t bite your friend!” is a wonderful line!

“A Hot Brick” sees Petra Schulenburg and Finty McBain as two First World War demonstrators outside The White House calling for women’s right to vote. Both get their message across admirably.

Changing venues, “The Processional” has Rebecca Kemp as a pastor conducting a wedding rehearsal that could easily become disastrous. While Laura Antoniazzi, Jackson Barnard and Tom Tassone make up their minds, there is a glorious speech from Brittany Gallasch as she has to be physically restrained while venting her opinion.

“Confession” powerfully darkens the night as Detective John Rosen interrogates an eerie child killer, which stenographer Joanne St Clair finds understandably upsetting. Nick Fagan tautly directs.

However, laughter is restored in “The Processional” where Claire Keen’s struggling artist wants a computer chip implant inserted. Neither Ms Keen nor Nick Fagan can fail here.

The Studio venue would have benefitted had the sets been moved closer to the audience, as each piece is so personal.

Again changing venues, Brandt Eustice delivers the night’s outstanding performance in “Captain Rockets Versus The Intergalactic Brain Eaters” as a dementedly obsessive TV sci-fi actor plotting vengeance on executives who plan to ditch the show. While Malcolm Walton and Jack Robins feature strongly, it’s Cheryl Douglas who deliciously steals moments with her hilarious impersonation of a TV ‘continuity’ girl, falsely smiling into the camera as if everything is going to plan.

Meanwhile, “Breakout” sees a corporate conference brainstorming ideas to improve their company, despite Sharon  Mallujlo’s disturbing soldier with alternative ideas. Anita Zamberlan Canala, Rosie Williams, James Fazzalari and Russell Slater have an impossible task!

Finally, Jack Robins re-appears with honours in “Brian’s Got Talent” with Jenny Allan alongside, as a frustrated reality TV show contestant. Altogether, a night to recommend, expertly produced, as always, by Michael Eustice and Libby Drake. Until January 21st.

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