The Sitcom Mission – New Diorama Theatre

A quartet of new writing, a first round of a competition, and a new theatre to stage them in …so something of night of firsts here.

The Sitcom Mission at the New Diorama Theatre is an intriguing idea – a competition that attracted over 500 entries to write a brand new sitcom.

The shortlisted 16 scripts will be showcased over the next 4 weeks before semi finals and finals eventually come up with a winner. Think X factor for sitcoms and you get the idea.

So this was round one and four brave writers stepped into the fray to stage an episode of their show, using minimal props and a small cast in front of a sell out audience. With no restriction on subjects it’s a mixed bag of offerings.

Kicking off the night was The Moo Crew by Joel Slack-Smith, set in the world of Breakfast Radio. While there is potential here for comedy there is also a feeling that it has been done before (Alan Partridge springs to mind). Some work on the characters would help this piece become more believable.

Next up was Stand and Deliver (Daniel Flinter and Elizabeth Rhodes), a surreal piece about two criminal sisters who have kidnapped a charity shop worker. Now alternative comedy is one of those Marmite subjects – love or loathe and for me the piece just didn’t work. However surreal the comedy there needs to be some grounding in reality and this absurd piece just didn’t convince.

Act Two of the night headed to Victorian London for a hilarious romp with Amy Peasegood, Fleet Street’s first lady reporter. This may be Bryn Mills first writing effort but it is an impressive debut, packing in the laughs thick and fast while also delivering believable and rounded characters.

The final excerpt of the evening moved from Victoriana to Chav with Sitting Ducks, a tale of social misfits and petty crooks. John Stylianou has created some interesting characters but perhaps we needed to see more of the back story to fully understand their behaviours. Out of all four pieces this was one that felt more at home on the stage rather than on TV.

As a writing competition it is the scripts we should be judging, so performances will go unmentioned here; apart from a line to say it was impressive to see all four casts had obviously worked hard to develop their characters.

Special mention must also go to, what on Eurovision would be described as the interval entertainment. The Scat Pack, a hilarious improv group who create a blockbuster from scratch from audience suggestions. Well worth the ticket price alone!

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