There’s always something exciting about watching something brand new, however developed it is, and the St Andrews New Drama On the Rocks Scratch Night entitled Millennials really reaffirmed the current writing talent we have in St Andrews. Diverse yet complimentary, this group of short plays may have been read from scripts but reminded me that an actors’ job is so much more than just learning lines – and that, rather like the puppeteers in a production like War Horse, you forget they are there once you become immersed in what is important.
The evening started off with a reading of Something Borrowed, written by Emma Middleton and directed by Jack Briggs. It centres around a man’s pre-wedding jitters brought to breaking point by: his gay cousin’s hilariously camp but worryingly different relationship with his partner; his aunt’s drunken ramblings about her failed marriage along with her son’s deadpan account on the likelihood of divorce; and his crone-like grandmother and great grandmother’s endless marital superstitions. Eventually he reconciles with his wife-to-be in a heart-warming encounter, admitting he had trouble writing his vows and in doing so, creating them.
The second reading was The Conversation, written by Gareth Owen and directed by Nataliea Abramowitz, which depicted the unlikely chance exchange between an old woman and a sixth-former. Unlike the other scripts, it just involved two characters in a single, ongoing conversation and, though in a lot of cases this can get tedious, here it proved to be a touching and uplifting commentary on society and its enforcement on us to conform to specific groups. Credit must also be given to Cate Kelly who managed to successfully portray an old woman!
The third reading, written by Jack Briggs and directed by Elliot Douglas (and simply titled Script), could not have been more different, weaving an intricate web of relationships in a rather dark turn from the other plays. I’ll try and explain it in a sentence: woman leaves fiancé for man she doesn’t know has cancer whose male friend is in love with him, who also has had history with the woman. Though it sounds complicated, it wasn’t hard to follow, with the ‘love triangle’ trope cleverly expanded (a love square?) to create a toxic mess of mistrust and betrayal.
Lastly, Adam Spencer’s John and Jane, directed by Jamie Jones, ended the evening spectacularly. Hysterically inventive and refreshing, it consists of a couple on a blind date assisted by an eccentric waitress – but most entertaining was the big-brother-esque ‘voice’ from backstage which narrates their meal. The ‘voice’ introduces John and Jane in a cheesy speed-dating kind of fashion, and the forever digressing waitress goes on to recreate a date between a woman and her Argentinian ‘husband/partner’ who cannot speak English, portrayed by the same actors. The highlights of this reading for me were the ‘voice’ introducing Jane being ‘convinced her soul mate was lurking behind a bush on the M69’ and John’s comic continuation of his Argentinian accent after the flashback was over.
At the end of the show, the audience was encouraged to vote for their favourite reading, and, in my opinion, John and Jane really stole the show with its witty and meta script. However, all four plays really got to grips with their respective subject matter and I look forward to a day when one of them will perhaps be developed into a full production. Until then, I’ll definitely be attending SAND’s next show.