As a theatre addict there is little that fascinates me more than what goes into putting a show together. Where do the ideas come from and who decides whether or not they’re going to work? The Drift Shop Scratch evening was therefore the perfect way for me to see theatre at its roots, theatre at the very beginning of its journey.
6 extracts of new writing directed by new directors and performed by new actors, it was the perfect evening to celebrate what the theatre world has to offer and, for me, the perfect opportunity to play a role in the development of new writing from the comfort of my chair. At the end of the night we were asked to fill in feedback forms for each play asking “what did you enjoy?” and “was there anything that could be better?” The former question was an easy one to answer but the latter was much harder such was the talent on display.
Of the six plays my favourite was The Inner Life of Elephants written by Tom Powell and directed by Phil Bartlett. Whilst I have no idea where the title comes from (there was a somewhat disappointing lack of elephants) the play itself was a hilarious take on the struggles of being a young Londoner when finding somewhere to live is often dependent on finding someone to leave you a large inheritance (sooner rather than later). It was a laugh out loud piece, well acted by Jessica Lee Hopkins and Riley Madincea whose relationship and comic timing were excellent.
Toby, written by Ben Pope and directed by Natalie Denton, also made me laugh out loud with its rather cutting analysis of life in 2015. But it also had a much deeper message and the emotional roller coaster of disappointment and loss was evident despite the play only lasting 10 minutes. Thanks to the brilliant characterisation by Laura Jayne Ayres I was so invested in the plight of the woman and her message to Toby that I could easily have watched for a lot longer.
Four more extracts of plays were also performed and the diversity of subject matter and acting talent on display shows just how bright the future of British theatre can be. Animals by Anna Wood explored mental health issues, Depths by Dan Horrigan explored what it is to love, The Girl Upstairs by Christopher John set up a very interesting mystery and Final Hours by Hana White forced me to reflect on how I would like to spend mine (at the theatre maybe?). I’m privileged to play a small part in the development of these plays and I hope to see all of them progress in the future.
A huge thank you also has to go to Emma Wilkinson and Jenna McKenna, the artistic directors, and Laura Sedgwick, the producer, who have given these acts a chance to showcase their work and help them in their development. When so many people only pay to see big names doing big shows it is heart-warming to see that original, modern and fresh theatre is still being championed and in an audience full of theatre fans I couldn’t have asked for a better night out.
Review by Emily Diver