Wednesday, December 7

Short But Sweet: Zoom Edition Liverpool Network Theatre Group

Liverpool Network Theatre, a company of non-professional local creatives, share five short plays in their first Zoom live-stream.

In Private Number, written by Steve Bird, William (PJ Murray) and Judy (Liana Jane Bourne) have an awkward first date, but events conspire against them. Although the ending was weak and the premise a little unconvincing, the plot twist was interesting and there could be room for expansion of this piece to find out what happened next. First-time director Gillian Paterson Fox does a respectable job.

The Interview, by John Jones, has moments of comic mania as it progresses. You can tell it was written for a couple of male characters, but Katarina Dobrovodska gives a lot of expression to her keen candidate with tall tales, and Karolina Gorska’s reactions are amusing. The script could perhaps take a few more risks, but this is an enjoyable piece overall. Frank Kennedy directs the action with a strong grasp of the dynamics in play.

Bob Towers’s Internet Dating is a piece in two halves. First, old friends Adam (Thomas Dempster) and Terry (Ted Grant) chat about Adam’s attempts to appear younger to keep up with his online girlfriend; then Sarah-Jane (Clare McGrath) and Emma (Iuliana Ghemis) reveal the perils of men who lie on their profiles. Director Julie Hills teases out the humour and realism in Towers’s piece, set up as two Zoom catchups.

Steve Bird’s second piece in the showcase is tense thriller No Hiding Place. Bourne and Murray return as Vinny and Benno, joined by Blade (played by Mike Sanders). This is a tight, sharp piece set against virtual backgrounds. TJ Hilton proves a talented director of this gangland tale, with a strong script and excellent performances from all three.

Donna M Day’s Ghost Light ends the evening with a light, affectionate tale of squabbling spirits in empty theatreland. Sebastian (Lew Freeburn), Vivian (Gillian Paterson Fox), and Claude (Shaun Hughes) are spirits of the stage. James Gray directs this amusing conclusion to the evening, and the characters all register well in the brief time they are on screen.

Despite a late start and some technical problems at times, this showcase is an adequate first try to bring the work of Network to home audiences, with enough variety in the pieces to keep you watching. Paying a bit more attention to pacing the transition between plays and dealing with the sound balance will improve any future streams.

Short and Sweet streamed on 14th May 2021 via YouTube. You can find more information about Liverpool Network Theatre at https://www.liverpoolnetworktheatre.org.uk/.  

Reviewer: Louise Penn

Reviewed: 14th May 2021

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