Review: HighTide Brunch Plays – The Cut, Halesworth

A leisurely Sunday morning. Coffee, bacon rolls and new writing. What could be better? HighTide have assembled a team of writers either based in, or inspired by the area, to write a series of micro plays. Given rehearsed, script in hand, readings, the series of ‘Brunch Plays’ allows an audience to see the germ of an idea in an informal setting.

Tracks by Shiona Morton is set on a small station on the East Suffolk Line. It’s a quiet Sunday, an unmanned station but for Ryan the chance conversation with a passenger gives him the only entertainment on an otherwise dull day. Morton captures perfectly those one sided conversations we’ve all witnessed on public transport, the talker and the reluctant listener. There’s also an evocative picture painted of the train line offering hope of escape from the town but one that, for Ryan at least, is possibly a step to far into the unknown.

One of the characters in Berri George’s Footpaths states that ‘you can’t move around here for writers’ – possibly an accurate summary of Halesworth this weekend but that wry observation aside, this tale of a chance meeting in a cabbage field turns into an examination of lost love, lost dreams and the desire to escape. There’s a feeling here that the piece could easily be expanded into a longer piece and that we are only scratching the surface of the story.

John Barton’s The Rules Of The Game is possibly the strongest of the four offerings. Packed full of witty one-liners, and well-drawn characters, this tale of a couple reuniting hides a much darker heart under the wit. There’s strong imagery and clearly defined characters despite the short length. The sense of wanting to return to a safer, secure, childhood setting is beautifully observed and again could easily be envisioned as part of an expanded work.

Rounding of the first weekend of Brunch Plays, Karis Halsall’s Bizarre will ring all to true for anyone who has ever had experience of the impenetrable rules of parish council hierarchy. In a village hall the Christmas bazaar is underway but a newcomer’s blatant breach of established rules and regulations is ruffling feathers. Halsall showcases real comic flair, with plenty of twists and turns en-route to a comic climax.

Originally written for The Public Reviews

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