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Play Slam

Five short plays (Mainly Comedy)
The Port Mahon, Fri 9 August - Sat 10 August 2013

August 13, 2013

I organise the Almost Random Theatre performances. I also review for D Info but this review is in an unofficial capacity.

So far there have been two 'play slams' in the past few days with each one featuring a minimum of ten plays. Playwrights from America, Wales and, nearer, Oxford (Lorna Pearson), have allowed their plays to be performed. Local actors (Steve Walker, Livvi Frazier) as well as those from further afield (Rachelle Payne, Richard Ward, Katie Floyd) have excelled in combining to put on two evenings of the very highest standards of acting, much to the enjoyment of audiences paying £6 or less.

Unlike last year there is very little padding to the evening: No improvisations and very little chat with the audience from an over-enthusiastic MC. Just play after play after play - and then a break.

On the downside, The Port Mahon, St Clements, has been a little too hot for participants as on each night the room has been full and, owing to downstairs noise, the theatre door had to be kept shut. But that is perhaps the only negative to an evening where such plays as Twins (Stuart Crafton), Insex (Jeff Neuman) and Pub Play (Doc Watson) have lead to screams of laughter from the audience.

The next performances are this Saturday but there are fewer plays (4) and a lower ticket price (£4). After the plays the cast mingle with the audience to make it an evening where there are no divas and no disgruntled people, just a happy, though somewhat overheated, throng.

Last week I went to two ART events - both Play Slam - and both with 10 slots. The advantage of having so many plays is that even if you don't 'play X' another will be along in a minute.

But there are disadvantages - for example, some actors appear in several plays (Dan Abrams seemed almost a one-man show!) and if their acting is poor it's becomes something of a theme.

In the case of Abrams, however, he is excellent - as indeed were all the crew.

Another disadvantage is that there was some repetition between the two nights. ART did try and overcome this by shuffling the actors - so an actor would appear in Role Play, for example, on Friday but be replaced by another actor on Saturday. This, for me, worked well as each actor brings his/her own interpretation.

Overall I thought the evening was excellent, although the room could do with some ventilation! I will be going again this Saturday as all the plays are new and there is music! And - apparently, don't shoot me - a trio of exquisite girls singing Stand by Me!

On Saturday I went to Port Mahon in St Clements to see the latest plays from Almost Random Theatre. (ART). Five plays seemed ambitious for a Saturday night, but, to my surprise, when the five plays had finished the MC Chris Sivewright announced there were a further five being put on and we could ‘return from the 20 minute break and watch the bonus'. Astonishing! I have never been to a theatre where you get double what was advertised.

But … quality not quantity perhaps?

The first thing to say is that 80% or so of the plays being put on had won prizes in competitions, in particular the annual Pint Sized Plays contest held in Tenby, Southwest Wales. The plays that were not winners were either new writing from local writers and/or had previously been selected and produced by Oxford Playwrights (eg. Once to Every Man and Nation by Lorna Pearson.)

The second thing I should mention is that ART is becoming a victim of its own popularity. The venue at Port Mahon is not that big and takes about 30 people, until it becomes uncomfortably overcrowded. Certainly when I was there on Saturday the room was extremely hot - sweat visibly pouring from some of the actors.
Two hours (with a break) of fast moving, very funny, well written and well-acted plays averaging about 60p each to see – nowhere in Oxford is it likely you'll get better theatre of this kind. ART is fast carving a niche for itself in the short-play market and audiences will continue to rise.

Of course if that does happen they really MUST get a bigger room for the show!

Fancy going down the pub but want something a bit more than just drinking and chatting? Then Almost Random Theatre's Short Plays are the way to go. Five short plays, plus five bonus plays if the audience request them, all for a good price.

I went along last Friday to see what it was all about. I enjoyed the evening - it had a very casual and relaxed atmosphere and the plays held my attention more than I thought. Some plays were not my cup of tea, but I was in the minority and I can't have it all my own way! I went in not knowing what to expect and I feel that suits the production. It is not a professional production, more work in progress / actors keeping their skills sharp, but within the space of the Port Mahon upper room this works perfectly. The actors are still as on their game as if they were in the Playhouse performing to a sell-out crowd. They are completely professional.

So if you feel like seeing a play, but don't fancy the hustle and bustle of the theatre scene, then head down to the Port Mahon to see Almost Random Theatre - a nice relaxing evening with a bundle of laughs thrown in as well.

I attended Almost Random Theatre's set of mini plays on Friday 9th August. They were acted out by some fabulous actors, many of whom are professional, while the plays themselves are of a great quality, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, but always entertaining.

Had a great time. The upstairs private room of Port Mahon in St Clements, Oxford has been adapted for theatre with a small staging area and even lights, which is a nice bonus, and of course there is beer and a really nice beer garden for sitting down and chatting with the cast and crew after the performance.

I'll be going to more of these as the standard is much higher than the £6 entry fee would suggest.

A great evening with great cast. The evening consists of 6-10 short plays. The scripts were well written and most of them have won a competition in the UK. Each night was different. For something simple and entertaining this will make you laugh.

Fabulous entertaining evening with Almost Random Theatre at The Port Mahon, St Clements, Oxford. Six mini plays last evening and six more to come. Roll on this evening.
A vibrant and talented group.

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