INK Festival 2019: The Feast from the East at the Tristan Bates theatre
The INK Festival is a series of unique and exciting short plays from writers who all have a strong physical or historical connection to East Anglia. The showcase champions this more compact format, which it claims is an “under-utilised art form but one with extraordinary potential for writers and actors”. This reviewer must wholeheartedly agree. A bit like a shot of tequila, these plays packed a punch and left the audience exhilarated. The acting and writing was tremendous, and without sounding hyperbolic, it delivered one of the best theatrical experiences of the year so far.
There were nine plays in total, with two of them only five minutes long and inspired by wellington boots. The comedy was balanced with some incredibly moving moments. Invisible Irene examined what it means to age and how you see yourself and the world sees you, while After Prospero was a Brexit parable inspired by The Tempest. The final two performances of the evening were shocking but utterly relevant: Mixed Up examined what it’s like to lose someone you love as they become a new person, using mixed tapes as a central theme and prop. The final play, A Selfish Boy, was an intimate living-room drama where a man takes us back in time to a memory of a conversation he had with his mother that continues to haunt him.
Ed Jone’s Ping Pong Club and That’s Great by Shaun Kitchener were hilarious. Jones was also a brilliant performer, as was Will Howard – who was exceptional in Mixed Up as well. Hillary Greatorex was outstanding as the mother in A Selfish Boy, a truly haunting portrayal of the effects of depression on a family that was skillfully written by Christopher Reason. The first play of the evening, Another Suitcase Another Hall, set it off with a bang and was penned by Richard Curtis with another hilarious performance from Jones alongside Amber Muldoon.
The idea of watching a series of short plays might put people off this show, named The Feast From The East after last year’s cold weather, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience that proved the power and relevance of theatre and its ability to engage with the issues of today. “I’ve never fired a gun, voted Brexit, or fracked a field in Suffolk, but I’ve got plenty of views on these things” declared the titular protagonist in Invisible Irene. How can lines like these not make you want to watch these short plays and have your own views on them too?
Photos: Courtesy of Origin 8 Photography
INK Festival 2019: The Feast from the East is at the Tristan Bates theatre from 7th May until 18th May 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.