Bare E-ssentials 3: With a Vengeance at Encompass Online
This is the third instalment of Encompass Productions’ award-winning online new writing night. And as one might expect with a new writing showcase, it’s a little hit and miss, but ultimately a lovely and intriguing concept.
Streamed live and subsequently available online, Bare E-ssentials 3: With a Vengeance is a show that introduces four new pieces of writing, pairing them up with a director and performers, all filmed under lockdown conditions. Bare E-ssentials strips theatre down to the, well, bare essentials. There’s very little in the way of sets, costumes and props – just one or two performers acting out a short skit in their kitchen or living room, or wherever they can prop up a camera. This is either the absolute best way to showcase new writing, allowing the writing to hold the entire weight of the show without the distractions of glittering sets and stunning costumes, or the most unfair way, where a lack of budget and low production values distract from the text.
Rules by Lucy Jamieson is first up, starring Karina Holness and Esme Cooper. It’s… fine – a slice-of-life situation between two best friends. It’s got a few chuckles here and there and the dialogue is quite natural, but as a piece it just seems like a practice writing exercise for Jamieson. There’s not much in the way of a wider narrative or purpose and so it feels a bit empty.
Next is Stones Around My Neck by Emma Dawson. There’s an interesting uneasiness to this mother’s monologue about her family that keeps you hooked. Who’s really at fault for their problems? Then The Chair by James C. Ferguson. A couple’s dinner guests have disappeared. This one falls a bit flat.
Lastly, Listen by Jacqui Penrose: the best of the bunch. Another monologue, it feels much better developed and staged. Amelia Parillon’s hard-hitting performance is full of emotion.
Bare E-ssentials 3: With a Vengeance is a nice little show. This hour showcasing new writing is great for anyone looking to see new ideas, new talent and also new ways of presenting theatre. And the beauty of the online availability is that the less impressive or interesting scenes can just be skipped.
Image: Rules by Lucy Jamieson