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Digital Sharing – KickItDown Productions | Review

The team behind Digital Sharing might not be best pleased with me likening their series to a ‘scratch night’ but there were moments when it felt like one. Most of the eighteen short plays were very good, with the odd one or two that were either too long (by which I mean ‘too slow’) or otherwise didn’t quite hit the spot. Others simply needed to be a little more developed: CTRL + ALT + DELETE by Caroline Wilson and Angela Moneke involved a surprise online birthday party for Nina (Morayo Adeagbo), put together by her friends. The host, Maria (Alison Boateng) has the briefest of interactions with Nina’s estranged father Barry (Renford Warmington) before the party gets underway, but otherwise, the audience is simply watching other people having a catch-up and enjoying themselves, which is lovely, but hardly makes for gripping theatre. Then again, with the world being as angry as it is, perfect civility between friends doesn’t hurt anyone.

Lockdown - KickItDown Productions

Joe Meegan’s The Time Is Now involves Jamie (Daniel Chrisostomou) takes leaving it too late to woo Jen (Emily Ambler), at least partly because he attempts to do so during working hours, with somewhat hilarious consequences, particularly when Marcus (David Mildon) drops into the online meeting to talk about work matters. I suppose it works as a comedy piece, with the hapless romantic trying to express his true feelings, albeit for a work colleague. There is some good acting to appreciate here but I struggled to maintain interest with all the waiting and faffing about.

A play need not be at breakneck pace to be riveting, however. In Past The Pier by Sam Milnes, Tommy (Dayal Ismail) talks about his upbringing. With his parents indulging too much in illegal substances to look after him, it was left to his older brother Ryan to feed him and keep him safe, and it was only in adulthood that he realises that while he felt supported, Ryan was under considerable pressure. Families on the beachfront also came about in Seaside by Martha Reed. Nadia Wyn Abouayen’s character is early for a meetup with her biological parents (assume, for the sake of argument, it is legally permissible for two households to meet outdoors). The narrative makes it clear she was given up for adoption, and has, all things considered, had a good life, but she has her reasons for wanting this meeting. It is almost a pity that the play ends abruptly just as they finally meet.

Other plays demonstrated how lockdowns have driven people to unusual behaviours. In Twitcher by Megan Smith, Ruth Syratt’s character is observant of all that goes on around her, to the point of being horrified that a key worker neighbour has brought his girlfriend home with him: “Who is she? We are in a f—ing lockdown!” In Guy / Man / Guy by Sophia Chetin-Leuner, Ruban Nathan’s character has embarked on a strict ‘fitness lockdown plan’ in order to (ahem) make a good impression on someone, only to find another man has already won her heart. It’s the sort of play that is both hilarious and somewhat sweet, as it is difficult not to feel some sympathy for someone who has put so much effort into something and not get whatever it was they were really striving for.

If I were to pick a favourite, I’d probably go for Choose Shoes by Hannah Weetman, a science-fiction dystopian play in which Gareth Barnett (Edmund Digby-Jones) has been promoted to manager of a shoe shop by default after – wait for it – aliens ate his predecessor. It being the end of the world (not, for narrative purposes, an exaggeration), Sandra (Caroline King-Gadekah) is non-plussed at being fired by Gareth (without having followed company disciplinary procedures) while Tim (Jack Heffernan) isn’t, for the worst of reasons, very responsive. It’s chaotic, to the point of giving Handforth Parish Council a run for its money, and strangely relatable, inasmuch as there are certain people who are so hungry for power that they can’t see the wood for the trees when they obtain just a little bit of it.

A third, if not more, of the plays were audio-only, which allowed the audience to focus on the script and accompanying sounds. Perhaps unsurprisingly in a pandemic, death was a recurring theme. Some of the plays could, truth be told, do with some refining, which will doubtless happen if they were to develop into full-length plays. A real mixed bag of the sublime and the ridiculous and everything in between, it’s a remarkable achievement for a zero budget production – a literal creation, if you will, of something out of nothing.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

watch all of our Digital Sharings here: https://www.kickitdown.co.uk/whats-on

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