There was a sort of frenetic energy at the Bedlam Theatre. Though usually full and friendly, the crowd was out in force, with cheers and whoops as the names of performers, producers, and directors were read aloud. Now that’s the kind of support we could all do with.
A total of six theatrical shorts were showcased, covering all thematic ends of the spectrum - from a bizzarist 'Brexit: The Musical' short (A Musical about Brexit by Lara Stone), to a poignant nod to Me Too (Me Too by Molly Keating). Many touched on the political, of which, the agendas were clear: the audience are to laugh, or to think.
Two of the six, Stone’s Brexit short and Rebecca Maxwell’s 'John and Steven' performances made for genuinely delightful viewing, funny in the right places and making its satire just overt enough. The stage presence too of the actors were great to watch. John and Steven’s almost tennis-like back and forth on the topic of women (perhaps deliberately without any women ever on stage to chime in with their opinion on the matter), was well-written, and genuinely funny. The best short, however, I must give to Lara Stone’s Brexit Musical, a fantastically tight script and exceptionally good rendering of the cast, it was well brought to life by the performers.
Sadly, for me, the remaining four shorts missed the mark. Two especially, were difficult to follow and unsatisfying ('Family Dinner' by Zoe Robertson, and 'Nothing Ever Changes' by Amy Yeo), where the former’s demonic and very shout-y ending was sadly a turn-off, and the latter seemed to spend a lot of time on not very much at all.
The two other features, 'The Reassessment' by Benjamin Wolff, and 'Me Too' by Molly Keating, should have been great. Though sadly, the characters of the first were too grating and annoying to make the very important point about cruel and de-humanising welfare 'assessments'. These characters were the assessors which does make the point, but the writing felt one-dimensional, and missed out on focusing on the performance’s most important character: the individual whose financial security rests in the uncaring assessors’ hands. 'Me Too' should be commended for its difficult subject matter, and the three different items of clothing (a blazer, a dressing gown, and a denim jacket) were clever props to illustrate how sexism, and sexual abuse can occur at any point, and any age.
The Edinburgh University Theatre Company’s (EUTC) Candlewasters Showcase was performed at Bedlam Theatre on 22 November 2019.