It's my first time at Rough Cuts. I've done rehearsed readings but not this short season at the Royal Court is where three plays are showcased as work in progress/experimental pieces in back to back 20 min segments.
The actors only have one day of rehearsal.
Permafrost by Brad Birch
Director: James McDonald
Cast: Lorraine Ashbourne (Mary) and Tom Brooke (Michael)
The scene is a bedsit. Mary, we quickly discover, is recently bereaved. She answers the door to Tom who worked with her, we'll assume, husband at a nearby factory. Tom has called to see how she is.
The 20 min slot progressed through several visits by Tom. Not a great deal is said. Mary is obviously still in a state of deep grief and Tom seems nervous and awkward but volunteers to help her with odd jobs.
And that is as much of a taster as we got. Where the story and presumably the relationship was going is anybodies guess. We were left tantalisingly at the doorstep of a hundred possibilities. But the pace was slow, combined with the fact that the actors didn't move around but sat on chairs to deliver their lines from the scripts it was difficult to engage.
That isn't to say that their performances weren't good Ashbourne, or Mrs Gollum, as I like to call her put in a particularly emotional performance, it's just the 20 minutes just skimmed the surface too much.
Buried by Alia Bano
Director: Joe Hill-Gibbons
Cast: Stephanie Street (Cathy), Claudia Harris (Jane), Geoffrey Streetfeild (Ryan, Jane's boyfriend).
This one was definitely further down the road to being a completed work. Jane's job has just cranked up to warped-speed as she helps prepare an important pitch. Good friend and colleague Cathy has just lost her mother and as well as contending with her grief has to organise a traditional Muslim funeral. She leans on Jane for support and comfort but Jane is new to a lot of the traditions and customs surrounding the death of a Muslim.
Tensions begin to rise as pressure from work lead Jane to confront Cathy about when she will return from compassionate leave and give vital help on the pitch.
This one had pace and in 20 minutes quickly built up a head of steam are underlying prejudices and tensions that left you wanting to find out more.