East End Literary Salon at Ophelia
Scripts were in hand, there was no costuming and very little set, but director Milla Jackson (who directed the entire evening) took to the stage before the plays began to explain that the purpose of the evening was to emulate the literary salons of old – to witness challenging new work that would provoke discussion within the audience. She invited the audience to write questions and place them in a bucket covered in EELS (East End Literary Salon – get it?). She then read these out at the end of the evening to get us talking, and get us talking it did.
The very nature of the evening meant that there was a huge variety of material. There was comedy and drama, both subtle and gross, and a flurry of authorial voices contending for the most memorable piece. There was political intrigue and café breakups, but more than discussion of material, the audience seemed interested in the motivations behind the writers of the plays. There was certainly something to appeal to everyone, and there were many heated discussions over which short was the best.
Jackson’s direction was admirable throughout and the acting was mostly strong from the ensemble. Highlights included a wonderfully unsettling moment of dusting in Sean Cook’s Coma and the engrossing subtitles of the quiet place in the party in Rosy Deacon’s Old Habits. Despite the evening’s spartan production, the final applause from the audience showed how much enjoyment can be had from this kind of event.
The Salon operates the free fringe model of ticketing – free to get in, donations suggested on your way out. Submissions are currently open for its December show, the theme of which has not yet been decided. This could well be the place to see some rising stars “before they were famous”.
East End Literary Salon is at Ophelia Dalston on the first Sunday of every month, for further information visit here.