Live Theatre’s festive offering is a quartet of new short Christmas-themed plays by young playwrights who are part of the theatre’s Associate Artist new writing scheme.
Tamsin Daisy Rees’s Clementines is a sharply funny drama about three siblings who are left home alone while their mother goes to look after a sick relative. The relationships between gay elder brother Sam and his wayward sisters Tess and Charlie are convincing, with Rees displaying a good ear for authentic and witty dialogue. There’s a lot of material squeezed into 20 minutes though and rather than the finished article, this feels more like a promising work in progress for a longer and richer play.
In Grounded by Henry Lawrence an injured pigeon helps to heal a rift between father and son. Although it takes a while to get going with two rather laboured and exposition-heavy monologues, the piece picks up when son Eddie and his Dad sort out their differences face to face. Furthermore, there’s a nice, feelgood ending involving the pigeon.
Olivia Hannah’s Home for Christmas starts off promisingly when a drunk homeless Santa gatecrashes a party. But while there are some good one-liners derived from this comic premise, it’s an uneven drama as its two central narratives about homelessness and online dating are shunted rather than woven together.
The best is saved until last with Jamie Morren’s Marbles. It’s a confident piece of writing about an elderly man who descends into a dreamlike fantasy world inspired by classic Christmas movies including Home Alone, Die Hard and It’s a Wonderful Life. For the most part, it’s a strange and baffling affair until it all comes together with the brilliant twist at the end.
The four plays are performed by a strong young ensemble cast; particularly impressive are Micky Cochrane and Sarah Balfour in their various roles.