My thoughts on VIGNETTES (Simon);
Huge respect to Hannah for launching a theatre company amongst all of the other brilliant work she’s doing in Manchester. She truly is a powerhouse and what she has achieved is incredible!
Some great acting. Matt Holt, Michaela Forbes, Vicky Oxley, Evelyn Roberts, Kate Hampton, Andy Bentley & of course Jade Goulding for jumping in last minute! Terrifying!
Rather than offer a critique for each one I though I’d share my thoughts, my opinions of how I’d liked to have seen the pieces developed.
As a writer your job is to make the story clear, succinct and also made for stage. This was not always the case, for 5 of them! They lacked clarity, drive, clear objectives for the actors and for one or two, an actual point-m to the show!! Three or four times I just simply didn’t know what was happening or indeed where the characters were even supposed to be. For one piece I wasn’t sure if we were looking for a blanket, exploring sexuality or just trying to have a laugh about Tinder. 🤷🏼♂️
The directors have to take some responsibility for this-although I appreciate that you can’t make good something that isn’t close.
A director must, though, take a story, work out what it’s about and structure it to tell that story. Using actors, lights and sound... but they shouldn’t feel they have to do this. Sometimes tonight you could see the SFX/LX being something they felt they should use (footsteps offstage.... surely just do this?). Again, these just prove to jar and break reality for an audience. And for the love of god USE PROPS! Wine... with no liquid? Miming cigarettes? Do it properly or don’t do it. It smashes us out of reality.
Another joint responsibility-and again just my opinion and perhaps just taste, but black-outs (and long/frequent ones!) are something that jar the flow of a piece. It’s very televisual to have so many scenes and if a writer does write them, in my opinion, a director has to find a way to avoid them and move forward fast and efficiently to avoid disconnection, audience chatter or worse, as I think happened at ‘Up ‘Ere’, applause. It’s an old fashioned device and used to be where a curtain came in-we don’t have curtains anymore (usually!), so we must find a way to keep an audience engaged!
Acting, for some, was pushed. Why people think comedy has to be caricature I don’t know. There were moments when comedies tried to then turn darker and share touching moments, however, it simply wouldn’t work because actors had not worked from truth. Their tears were not connected and I didn’t care about them. Actor or director, we have to take an audience on a journey and those actors/directors who chose far-reached, unconnected comedy, came unstuck and lost us when trying for emotion. Even comedy must come from truth.
That said, Laura Harper’s piece, directed by Megan Marie-Griffith was sublime. The first piece. Genius writing that made me think, took me on a journey, and made me laugh. Perfect black comedy, played truthfully which allowed me to laugh not at silly voices but very, very clever writing; I was laughing at well observed facts that when structured correctly, made me question why I was actually laughing at the horrific content! Genius writing. Great performances.
(I didn’t see many actors after but we need to NOT ask audience members if they enjoyed it! It’s bad form!).
Remember, these are my opinions! ☺️
Huge congrats to Hannah and HER. Looking forward to Shangrila!