On and around the stage since age 7, Phil has been on nearly every side of it, both professional and amateur. He has been involved in over 100 productions, from major corporate and government events to playing an on-stage prop in a walk-on role.
Imagine this: you’re convincing your friends to go out to the theater. They hesitate, they whinge, and they cringe. You ask why? “Because”, they say. When you finally get down to it, they don’t want to because they “don’t like theatre.” “It’s just so pretentious.” “It gets too political.” “They think so much of themselves.” “I don’t want to watch amateurs.” The usual complaints.
You try your best to convince them that it isn’t always like that. It will be good, it will be fun. Maybe a few amateur flops, but overall good. Right?
And then you take them to Wildcards 3 of Short+Sweet. And… they are proven unequivocally and wholeheartedly correct.
Other than a few good stand-outs, it was a depth of despair, running the whole range of bad theatre: flat acting, zero direction, unnecessary “artistry”, preachy politics, pretense from people with no ostensible rhyme or reason to be pretentious.
A barren stage might have been more enjoyable to watch. It offends less.
Here’s the kicker, The Nice One, The Friendly One, Ms. Lamya Twafik, even she agreed this was an awful (her words: “horrific”) afternoon of theatre. It is sad because, thus far, the Wildcards have been a good example of recent developments in Dubai theatre. Sometimes a mixed bag, yes, but that’s what makes them the Wildcards and that’s what makes them enjoyable.
Not this week. But kudos should be given to a few groups who did truly perform. The best of the lot easily coming from the kids at the American School of Dubai (Avalanche). Ruth Badley (Just Playing) had a decent showing in this afternoon as well. A workshop group led by Alex Broun showcased an interesting piece which was passably good as well.
Ok… calm down. Let’s give some credit. There were many amateurs and first-timers on stage this time around. There were many school groups. The great thing about Short+Sweet (and I’ve said it many times) is the chance to develop the craft and the skills needed to make for great theatre. The Wildcards allow for experimentation and risk-taking. Sometimes that works well, as in Wildcards 1 and, to an extent, Wildcards 2. Other times, like this one, it doesn’t.
The Play by Play
Yeah… no. No one in this section has asked us not to review their play. But, there are only so many words for boring and lethargic and exhausting and pathetic in the thesaurus. We do not need to unnecessarily go after school groups and first-timers if our feedback is only going to be negative.
If a review is requested, we will do that. I don’t like changing the rules of the game half-way through, but it just seems wrong to review these ones.
I will say this, Avalanche was top-notch and would stand fine against any Top 40 piece (in fact, much better than a number of Top 40 pieces.) The performances were phenomenal in a play which is incredibly difficult to perform. Zero movement allowed. Difficult-to-see facial expressions. Yet, because of direction, performances, and script, it worked. It is obvious why judges choose this as top.
If you are a director from this Wildcards 3 and want us to review your play, we will, gladly. We will also understand if you are a first-timer or school group, and will try not to be harsh, but we will still be as honest as we have tried to be all along.