Review: Wildcards 3 – Short+Sweet Dubai 2017

Review: Wildcards 3 – Short+Sweet Dubai 2017


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.

The Composition

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.

‘Avalanche’ by ASD is sixth this afternoon #americanschoolofdubai #shortandsweet #dubaitheatre #skier #skiing #avalanche #mydubai

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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.

About author
Profile photo of Phil Apaza

Phil Apaza

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.

  • Ruth Badley#1

    February 21, 2017

    Personally I think it is a pity there are no reviews. The less successful need to know ( in a nice way ) how to improve! Even the top three plays get very little feedback – hardly enough to excite audiences to come to the final. Which they should!
    Ruth Badley

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      Phil Apaza#2

      February 21, 2017

      Since we have seen all the plays going in to the Wildcards Final, we will be putting out something about what to expect there. And we agree, the Wildcards Final will actually be quite good. It will be what Wildcards 3 was not. We will gladly review your play, and a couple others have requested theirs as well. I will also look at the top three since they move on to the final. (Give me a bit of time as I unfortunately have a backlog of things.)


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