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REVIEW: In A Nutshell, performance space at St Aidan's, Longueville

Michelle Sutton

From the moment I approached the entrance of St Aidan’s I felt the friendly ambience that would make the night so successful. Everyone from the ushers to the volunteers at the snack bar glowed with the anticipation of the opening night of a brand new venture. Lane Cove Theatre Company proved that they do community theatre well, with heart, warmth and boldness.

Lane Cove Theatre Company’s inaugural short play showcase is titled ‘In A Nutshell’ and is presented by the 2019 Lane Cove Festival. The showcase consists of ten short plays that run for ten minutes each with a popular vote held at the end for the people’s choice award. The plays are written, directed and performed by locals. Local residents of the Lane Cove area were encouraged to submit plays by email and writers given the option of directing their own story, or having another person to direct. The Lane Cove Theatre Company should be praised for attempting something new, in unearthing people’s talents and empowering locals to have the chance to stage their work, potentially for the first time ever. In A Nutshell succeeds in presenting a range of stories that are comedic and thought-provoking, current and satirical, romantic and controversial.

The performance space at St Aidan’s, Longueville is cosy and appropriate for a night that involves so many changes of set and tone. Kudos to the production crew for their impressive teamwork and resourcefulness in cultivating the small space to work for so many different stories. The stage manager Hugo Foong, did an impressive job of ensuring prop changes happened swiftly and smoothly to keep the night on track. Lighting by Jeremy Cardew was consistent and also assisted with smooth transitions from play to play.

The entire ensemble of actors are fantastic but a special shoutout must go to Nicole Smith who masterfully performs a 10 minute monologue ‘Slow Dating’ and has the crowd fall so silent you could hear a pin drop. It is always refreshing to hear stories from the perspective of women above thirty and to see older actresses in their power, relishing truly original and dynamic scripts, that allow them the opportunity to be funny, vulnerable, a little bit scary and compelling. The range of writing styles and themes is wonderful and producer Rachael Ashley has to be commended on this. A police-buddy comedy, an unexpected uprising at the zoo, speed-dating for seniors, a thespian ghost haunting a theatre are just some of the premises for plays you will see in this competition. The writing also touches on current issues in Australian headlines including disgraced football players, the Me Too movement and hits contemporary concerns such as online versus real life experience for young people. Throughout the night I laughed and gasped out loud and was drawn to sit on the edge of my seat at a few special moments.

To me, the power of community theatre is in the celebration of people of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities coming together out of sheer joy and passion. In A Nutshell has this in spades. I live locally and was delighted to discover such a range of talent and creativity right on my doorstep. I recommend getting along to this exciting inaugural play festival, which is more than deserving of becoming a staple part of the Lane Cove Festival every year. In A Nutshell runs just for this weekend, until the 29th of September.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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