Well, now the Whingers have discovered the excitement of living on the fringe there’s no stopping them.
Yesterday saw them at the worlds’ first carbon neutral theatre, the Arcola which is in, well, nowhere that has seemingly been graced with a name, but it’s quite near Dalston Kingsland station.
This was Miniaturists 18. Yes, that’s right. Not only the fringe, but also a mix of established writers and “new writing” which is something the Whingers stopped bothering with some time ago when the penny dropped that “new writing” is all about the promise of “possibly good writing at some point in the future”; now they just wait for new writers to become established writers.
Anyway, the Whingers couldn’t wangle out of this one because one of the plays was written by none other than long-suffering WEW partner in crime Helen Smith (left).
The point of Miniaturists – conceived and curated by playwright and WEW-partygoer Stephen Sharkey – is to explore “the possibilities of the short play”. No piece is longer than 20 minutes which suits the Whingers fine as they are famously known for their low boredom thresholds. Usually there are five plays but yesterday’s event contained six.
Each play is directed by a real director and performed by real actors. Phil was thrilled to discover that one of the actors in Helen’s play was so real that he was actually in Coronation Street 10 years’ ago when he played bad egg Greg Kelly (Stephen Billington, right) for which he won the 1999 British Soap Award for Villain of the Year.*
Anyway, to cut a long story short, this Miniaturists thing has a lot going for it. If you’re not enjoying a play you at least know that you won’t have to wait long until it’s over (c.f. Terror 2007). Thankfully the Whingers enjoyed practically all of it but special mention goes to Joy Wilkinson‘s dizzyingly clever The Sunnyhill Sweepstake featuring Anthony Shuster as a primary school teacher who is chalking up odds on a blackboard next to the names of the pupils in his class – but odds on what…?
And what a relief to find that Helen Smith’s Purple, Silver, Olive, Orange was not, as she had threatened, set in a dystopian future and that it contained the word “whinge” several times and that there was food on stage and that it turned out to be a very funny, somewhat absurdist piece about a woman who asked for a man who would write poetry about her, got one and is regretting it. Cracking stuff.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit even though we had to pay for our unreserved seats (the programmes were free though). Over a bottle or two of organic red wine in the theatre bar afterwards the Whingers found themselves seized with the confidence to write their own 20 minute play for Miniaturists 19, an idea they pitched to Stephen Sharkey as he passed their table. He was very encouraging although it needs to be developed a bit further than the current ideas which are that (a) it opens with 17 performing seals and (b) that there will be a part for Dame Judi Dench (no substitutes).