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Bare E-ssentials Livestream – Review

Every Seven Minutes by Ken Preuss
Every Seven Minutes by Ken Preuss

Once again, Encompass Productions brings us a selection of short one-act plays. The evening started with Every Seven Minutes by Ken Preuss
Performed by Ryan Brannon and Cate Olivia
Directed by Jonathan Woodhouse

Two godlike type people in the “every seven minutes room” whose job is to ensure that things that happen every seven minutes occur. For example, apparently, every seven minutes a double rainbow appears, and these two make it happen. The chap (Ryan Brannon) takes it all in his stride and doesn’t care what the consequences are of his actions. So, every seven minutes he makes a person drown, but doesn’t have any interest in who that person is or what their circumstances are. To him, it’s just a job, whereas the girl, who is new in the role, seems to have trouble disassociating her actions from emotions. She rebels against the system that affects the lives of random people every seven minutes, leading to an unexpected end of the play.

A very nicely written show that really addresses the idea of ‘only obeying orders’. The male character is, I guess completely amoral. He is doing a job, he gets paid and if there are consequences – which there are – then so be it, he doesn’t want to know. The introduction of the co-worker with a conscience really affects him, and both actors bounce off each other nicely as she tries to make him think about the consequences of his job.

Spread by Robbie Knox
Spread by Robbie Knox

Spread by Robbie Knox
Performed by Gabrielle Macpherson and Robert Gallagher
Directed by Rachael Owens & Liam Fleming

A brother and sister are trying to write an obituary for Moira, As they work, they reminisce about their mother’s funeral and this leads to a discussion about the definition of being an orphan. As they go, they try to think of what Moria meant to them and how she should be remembered. This raises the point of how people leave their mark on the planet and those around them not just during their lives but for generations to come.

Again, a well-written show with some interesting ideas. How do you define an orphan, and do we all become one eventually as our parents die before us. Then there was the wonderful definition of the church being like Instagram for old people. Robert and Gabrielle really come across well and have that wonderful relationship that is often the hallmark of siblings. As I get older, I think about what happens to me when I depart and I have to say that if my life can be summed up in something as simple and effective as Moira’s is, then I will have had a life well-lived.

Spud by Robert Wallis
Performed by Liz McMullen and Richard Coffey
Directed by Rachael Owens

A surreal story of two potatoes that come alive in an oven. Considering the two have only just gained consciousness and self-awareness but seem to have a lot of inbuilt knowledge of the world, not to mention Shakespearean quotes.

This is a short play and the well written script reminds me, in some ways, of the whale and the bowl of petunias, in the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. The sudden impact of self consciousness on the two potatoes is painful, as we, the audience, know that no matter how much they may complain and shout, they cannot escape their fate. The writing and performances were both good and actually made me feel a bit guilty that I had eaten a baked potato for lunch.

Like A House On Fire by Keith Gow
Performed by Rachel Nott
Directed by Liam Fleming

A play that starts with the words ‘I set fire to a brothel once’ really sets its stall out early. As Penny talks to us, she stops every so often to light and admire a match. We learn that she has set fire to many things, and used to take pride that she only ever set fire to one of anything. One tree, one car, one TV, etc. As she explains things, she challenges the audience to judge her and it is easy to do so. However, this production shows, you should never rush to make snap judgements, and people are way more complex than we give them credit for. She has real pride in her ‘work’ and really comes alive as she describes what a fire meant to her both emotionally and physically.

What a powerful play to end on. Rachel was totally mesmerising as Penny and it’s interesting, the night after the new Alan Bennett ‘Talking Heads’ season starts, this play could, to me, easily have fitted into that series. Amazing performance and writing combined.

Full credit to Liam Fleming for not only successfully hosting the event but also turning his very talented hands to directing, and signing off the evening in one of the best ways possible.

Even in lockdown, it is brilliant to see that Encompass have managed to bring together a talented group of writers, directors and actors to put on such a good show. Like everyone else, I yearn for the day, in the hopefully not too distant future, when we can all get back to theatres and sit in an audience watching actors move about a stage in full view. But, until then, Encompass have proved that you can sit at home watching a screen and be as excited about the future of theatre once more.

5 Star Rating

Review by Terry Eastham

Encompass Productions presents BARE E-SSENTIALS, the acclaimed online edition of London’s best-reviewed new writing night, returning due to popular demand! Featuring short plays from established and emerging playwrights across a variety of genres, get ready for an incredible hour of bare-bones theatre as each piece is performed live and beamed straight into your homes and devices. The plays submitted from around the world include:

Every Seven Minutes by Ken Preuss
Spread by Robbie Knox
Spud by Robert Wallis
Like A House On Fire by Keith Gow


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