Formed in 2005, The Miniaturists is a showcase for, and a celebration of, the short play. Currently curated and produced by Declan Feenan and Will Bourdillon, it provides a platform for new work by both emerging and established playwrights. These are then given full productions rather than readings, and the standard is always remarkably high given the how tight rehearsal schedules usually are.
This is the 52nd edition of the writer-led event. The line-up was typically varied in terms of style and approach. Duncan Gates’ More Fish in the Sea kicked things off: a smart, funny riff on myth. The shortest of the night’s five pieces, it’s a play of one twist but it’s satisfyingly done, concise yet pleasantly unsettling – a play with sharp little teeth.
This was followed by Pippa Caddick’s Man in the Moon, an exploration of how debt, unemployment and parental expectation can impact on a family, which, while slightly rambling, contained some strong moments. The most dramatically rich piece was Jessica Sian’s Honeybear, a tender two-hander about a couple coming to terms with the fact that one of them is terminally ill. Featuring some of the strongest performances of the night, from Simon Manyonda in particular, it was a moving look at how one can live while dying.
Things shifted in tone completely for Brad Birch’s musical finale, God’s Monkey. While very silly, it underlined what the Miniaturists does best: providing a space in which writers can engage in playfulness and experimentation while exploring all the different forms a short play can take.