Reviewer: Rebecca Mickler
The Public Reviews Rating:
As a second visit to a JB shorts season having watched JB Shorts 6 this time last year, it was especially interesting to see what would be in store this time around. As ever, the variation in subject matter for each of the six fifteen minute plays is brilliantly mastered; adding to that a snapshot of the best of Manchester based actors and writers and you have a consistently good bi-annual benchmark in theatre to rival any other city.
The best of the best was the play ‘The Bombmaker’. Written by Lindsay Williams whose play, ‘Earthquake’, was written for last year’s shorts also being a standout piece for that season. ‘The Bombmaker’ is a tale about a scientist and an agent locked in a struggle over a very real nuclear threat currently looming over the Middle East. Both Amir Rahimzadeh and Lucas Smith who played these characters were captivating in this play that felt just like a Hollywood thriller – albeit a much shorter version!
Coming in a close second was ‘Raving Beauties’ writer Dave Simpson’s contribution; ‘Maddie’ – about an ageing Popstar, a daughter, and a sex mad male fan. Although beginning a bit ‘Ab Fab’, it ended hilariously with flying vibrators, bum balls, and handcuffs. Special mentions go to Chris Brett who was especially endearing playing the misunderstood nymphomaniac and stage technician James Mason who was well timed in strobe lighting the sex toy bashing frenzy.
On a more serious note, JB shorts pioneer, writer and actor James Quinn, asked the audience to pick a side in the final play of the evening: ‘Red’. This is a great and unique little play about an open love letter to FC United of Manchester and its David and Goliath fight to become the real, true, and ultimate Manchester United – minus the American owner.
It is great to see Reallife Theatre company’s ethos to produce decent theatre with varied plots is still as evident in season eight as it was in season six last year. The company should be even more daring in their subject matter however, and deliver even more stories that are relevant and topical to keep the coming seasons interesting. Even so, JB Shorts are always excellent at leaving the stereotypes at the door and exploring varying plots whether zany or serious. In short, this season’s shorts are a cheap night out that are by far worth their weight in gold – or at least lots of beer!
Runs until Saturday 20th October (excludes Sunday 14th October.)