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!