Over the past year, Drift Theatre has put on a series of scratch nights- new writers put on a snippet of their work with new directors and new actors, with the audience giving each piece constructive feedback. A Drift Christmas Review revived five of the best shows from the past year’s scratch nights for a second performance.
Having attended only one of the scratch nights previously, I was pleased to see my favourite performance of that night back again –Unpossibiliting, written by Tom Powell and directed by Phil Bartlett, is a story of two people desperate to get on London’s property ladder but with little chance of doing so without their inheritance from their parents. Having seen this work previously under the title The Secret Life of Elephants, I was pleased to see that the title had been changed to something that was more relevant to the piece itself. Whilst I couldn’t pick out any further definite changes (April was a long time ago and I don’t always have the best memory) the performance was slick and the script was funny and fast-paced, excellently performed by Jessica-Lee Hopkins and Riley Madincea.
I hadn’t seen any of the other shows previously so I cannot comment on how they have changed. However, I thoroughly enjoyed each one. My particular favourite was Summertime written by James Elliot. Two characters telling the same story in their own words and at the same time, it was a clever and novel concept which brought huge amounts of humour to the show. It was clever that the changing relationship of the two characters could be distinguished purely based on how in sync their speech was. Cameron Cook and Kay Dent were brilliant as the man and woman and despite only being on stage for a short period of time, they had me invested in their relationship.
Directors Laura Killeen and John King used the space expertly and made sure the seating arrangements in the theatre were used to their advantage. My only criticism is that, as both characters’ stories began to deviate, it became impossible to listen to both at the same time. Sometimes I was able to choose who to listen to, other times the choice was made for me based on the staging. However, I can’t help but feel I might have been missing out by not being able to listen to the other person and it is very strange when only half an audience is laughing at once.
The final comedy piece was End of Term Show by Olu Alakija and directed by Jess McKenna. As a teacher, I can appreciate the stress of the end of term show and I’m sure many of us have memories, good or bad, of being in the school nativity play. This play tells the story of Maxwell, a man who is still scarred from his experience as the innkeeper in his school nativity. Akshay Sharan was hysterical as Maxwell and his delivery of the monologue was exceptional with impeccable comic timing.
As well as the comedic pieces, there were some more serious issues dealt with in Waco Monologue and A Kiss From Back Home. Waco Monologue by Lily Staff felt very relevant to an increasingly politically divided world and Emily Dance did an excellent job of playing the nervous woman telling the story of how she had become involved in a cult.
By the end, we had a very clear insight into her mindset and it would have been interesting to hear more, to find out what happened in 1993 (a date referred to throughout the piece) and why she is there. A Kiss From Back Home by Dan Horrigan also left me with more questions than answers and whilst I enjoyed doing some gap filling myself (who is the mysterious ‘you’ that is referred to throughout the monologue?) I definitely felt like I needed more resolution at the end.
Overall, this was an excellent night, showcasing how much the future of theatre has to offer. The team behind the nights – Laura Jayne Ayres, Jess McKenna, Emma Wilkinson and Jemma Sedgwick deserve to be applauded for their hard work in bringing together several scratch nights and the Christmas Review was certainly a great way to showcase a successful year.
Review by Emily Diver
Highlights: A Drift Christmas Review
An end-of-year review for the new writing scratch night, Drift Shop.
19th December 2016 – 7.30pm
The White Bear Theatre
138, Kennington Park Road, London, SE11 4DJ