JB Shorts 18

JB Shorts return to their new home at 53two for JB Shorts 18.  It’s a great space for this event.

Certainly JB Shorts know what they are doing.  Under the billing of An Evening of Six Fifteen Minute Plays by Top TV Writers, the presentation has a particular style, perhaps more accessible than the usual theatre drama.  This usually means interesting ideas fitted into a compact fifteen minute arc, and this evening is no exception with topics including dementia, abortion and our relationship with the internet.  But ‘TV writing’ always risks creating stereotypes and overgeneralisation, not leaving enough space for the audience to think.  Characterisation suffers at times.  You can’t have everything in fifteen minutes I suppose.

Yet this is an impressive collection of short plays, with a consistently high quality.  There are impressive acting and directing performances throughout, and the mix of plays lends itself to a satisfying overall experience.  It’s good to see a link between the plays and this is provided by the backdrop of props being drawn for each play in turn.  This selection feels altogether more consistent than previous evenings, and the running order is perfect.

Perhaps because it has more of the feel of theatre than TV, the play that stood out for me was Flotsam and Gypsum, about an elderly lady with dementia and the plasterer who is redecorating her flat.  There was a stillness and thoughtfulness here that was achingly sad at times, as she mistakes the plasterer for her errant son.  A cracking play to end with.

I also like plays that offer an unusual form or vehicle to tell their story.  Making Waves addresses the tricky issue of abortion with a play set on a boat moored just inside international waters, with an unexpected twist.  Just Sayin’ uses a very simple but effective technique of people sitting at a bar to ask questions about how we communicate with each other on the internet.  Would we say that IRL?

One of the best instalments of JB Shorts I’ve seen.

JB Shorts runs from 7-18 November at 53two, Manchester.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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