Image courtesy of DL Productions

 

Irish playwright and TV writer Alan Flanagan presents a series of short plays for Flanaganza, the latest of SLAM Theatre’s ‘Spotlight on the Writer’ showcases. Opening with a bang we meet Tariq (Arin Nik), a Syrian refugee trying to get to London by partaking in a tawdry ITV 2 game show hosted by typically overzealous presenter, Kyle (Derek Murphy). Square One highlights Flanagan’s astute observation of current affairs. Self-righteous and cruel, Kyle presents Tariq with a series of agonising life or death situations in order to determine if he can win his right to stay in the UK. With such a dark subject matter presented in an unsettling yet comical fashion, the audience braces themselves for what’s to come.

Directed and produced by Dilek Latif, twelve actors take the audience through an eclectic mix of theatre. Six plays delving into the complications of human relationships experienced through surreal circumstances. What follows, however, is a series of unfocused shorts lacking strength of plot in order to make them worthy of audience investment. In The Twirling Venus Existential Freakout, astronaut Siobhan (Sydney Aldridge) being so willing to gamble her life, marriage and family to gather data from Venus’ surface doesn’t ring true. She risks everything all because her father didn’t say “I love you” in the right way before she left. However, the stand out performance here is from Clark Alexander playing a robot housing five programmed characters from Siobhan’s life on earth including her brash Scottish father. Alexander switches seamlessly between characters, expertly embodying each one.

Similarly, in A to Z, two linked monologues performed by Grace Cookey-Gam and Lainey Shaw lack the depth of plot required to convince the audience that two women have spent thirty years agonising over a drunken kiss they almost shared when they were eighteen and what might have been had they been brave enough. However, when Flanagan lands on a good plot, it sings. In the farcical comedy Repeat After Me an American scientist successfully builds a time machine in his home. But when the same ten seconds keep repeating for anyone who walks into his house including his wife stuck in a comical time loop returning for her coat, he’s forced to admit the grim realities of his invention.

For all its deeply alluring ideas, Flanaganza doesn’t quite capture the characters under the surface of some rather exposition heavy pieces. The skilful direction and talented performances carry it through. Otherwise it suffers as an aimless series of shorts lacking in the ability to engage empathy in its audience. One feels Flanagan has three elegantly crafted plays in Repeat After Me, Square One and He Loves Me Not ready for the stage, with a further three hastily written and under explored in order to fill the ninety minutes.

Flanaganza, SLAM, London. March 2017.

Amy Clarke

Amy Clarke

Originally hailing from the northern tranquility of leafy Lytham St Annes, at two years old, Amy and her family relocated to the south coast of Ireland to grow up by the sea. Finding life far too peaceful, spacious and relaxing, she moved to London in her adulthood to contribute to the ongoing overcrowding living experiment.
After ten years as a dog groomer, she went to university to gain her degree in her first love, writing. With a BA in Creative Writing and now working towards an MA in Scriptwriting at Goldsmith’s University, her writing influences are a combination of her British heritage and Irish culture, along with her passion for comedy.
Her first feature film is a mockumentary comedy based on her experiences working in a luxury spa for pets. She is a sitcom obsessive with her comedy influences coming from both British and American sitcoms.
Life would be extremely enjoyable if she could eat doughnuts with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, her comedy heroes, every day.

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