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WordPlay is an exciting rehearsed reading from OnSet productions at Bath Spa University. Actors work with three completely new scripts from emerging writers, all totally unique in their own way. The cast all wear everyday clothing and are seated on a bare stage, giving the performance an informal and raw feel.

The first play was 365 Last Suppers from Lavinia Roberts, the story follows Penelope an intelligent and slightly over-eager gallery assistant trying to organise a new exhibition. What follows is a very interesting theme on how different people perceive art in this modern age. However, although the theme was strong the play itself did not have a strong ending, which could be developed more. Up next, based on the short stories of Anton Chekhov was the one-act play Couples by Roy Proctor. We see Ivan Dmitritch and his wife Masha on the verge of winning the lottery and dreaming up plans for the future, leading them to discover cracks in their relationship. The writing has such beautiful imagery and storytelling it is very captivating. It also fits to Chekhov’s themes of middle class families experiencing trouble. Lastly, we were treated to Building Madness by Kate Danley. This hilarious sitcom-esque play follows Max Marshall and his colleagues, Trixie and Paul, trying to win a contract to save their business from going under by rekindling an old flame of Max’s, Gwen. However, disaster is always around the corner, especially in the hands of the slightly dim receptionist Trixie! The writing is sharp, with lots of great jokes and witty comments flying between the characters and was the perfect play to end on!

The cast themselves really lift the characters off the page. They all make incredibly strong character choices with clear voices and physicality (which must be tricky considering they are seated for the performance!) It is especially interesting to see the stark difference in characters from cast members in more than one play. For example, Gena Goldfield plays a wonderful free spirited hippy in 365 Last Suppers, which contrasts with both her upper middle class Masha and her final appearance as the flirtatious Ruby Deleon in Building Madness. Overall, their energy throughout the readings is what really brings the writers words to life.

WordPlay is a fantastic collaboration of new writing talent and new acting talent. The next showing will be on Saturday 7 February at 2pm and 7:30pm, and I would highly recommend attending to discover yet more emerging writers and actors.

 

Charlotte Claydon