Review: JB Shorts at 53Two

Go See This contributor Jade Fox reviews JB Shorts at 53Two and thinks you should turn the telly off and get to the theatre.

What happens when seven TV writers walk into a theatre?
A jolly good time apparently.

A whirlwind of comedy, grit and a few tears, JB Shorts doesn’t fall ‘short’ of its reputation. It’s a night where an underground tribe of ‘TV writers’ are let loose to create a complication of six plays.

In lieu of a TV schedule here’s some highlights of the night:

Dave Simpson’s short begins the evening with the comic equivalent of a starting gun.
‘I’ve Tried it Once’ is a hilarious journey of married life narrated by the brilliantly believable Victoria Scowcroft. It was full to the brim with multi-rolling, lovable characters and sex talk that made the audience titter. Simpson had a firm grasp on theatre’s capacity to jump through time and the director, Bartlett knew how to locate an audience’s funny bone as if she had x-ray vision.

Another stand out short was ‘Our Club’. The situation was absurd: two footie fans storming the office of a newly appointed employee, demanding answers on the future of their club. This really struck gold, tapping into the fear of modern marketing and the sadness the fans feel when they know their club is exploiting them. Sonia Ibrahim’s performance was astounding and alongside Paul William I would wish that none of us ever deserve a visit from them at the office.

A whirlwind of comedy, grit and a few tears, JB Shorts doesn’t fall ‘short’ of its reputation.

‘The Stretch’ provoked sympathy in the audience. Public opinion very often dismisses or condemns the prison community, failing to see the individual amongst statistics and horror stories. Joe Ainsworth’s use of spoken word instantly connected us with his protagonist and James Lewis, in turn, brought this character to life with immaculate detail of expression.

One of the most absurd situations was ‘The Equivalent’. Avoiding spoilers here it was as if James Quinn began with ‘what would two people be like if they had just…?’ and went from there. The comedy really hit the mark with the audience although it would have been good to see some movement based comedy incorporated into the performance.

To finish off the night we were treated to a silly, slapstick adaptation of ‘War and Peace’. How they condensed such a lengthy novel into a short piece of theatre I will never know but they did it marvellously. This was the most theatrical piece of the night, with a barrage of costume changes, some (seemingly) improvised moments and the most hilarious impressions of Russian high society ever found outside of the BBC. The audience were certainly primed for laughter at this point but nothing could prepare us for the comic aptitude of Rob Mallard, Emily Spowage and Alex Phelps.

To attend this evening is a great choice: you will exercise your laughing muscles and be privileged to witness new writing by those who deserve to be celebrated.

JB Shorts is running until the 5th of May 2018.

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