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Attention Seekers - Short Shrifts (Bristol)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
What an interesting and surprisingly different evening! Twelve plays in two hours? I was curious to know how this could be achieved while still holding the audiences attention – especially as there are only three actors taking part. My goodness though they do it!

Short Shrifts, by Peter Oswald is running at The Brewery – Tobacco Factory Theatre until Saturday 30 July. The Brewery is just the right place for this kind of show – intimate and cosy with an almost family feeling about it. You are very close to the actors and can look them in the eye – although you may not want to during some of the plays!

Peter Oswald is a well known and highly respected English playwright. His plays have been performed at the National Theatre, the Almeida, Birmingham Rep, in the west end, on Broadway, and around the world. He was the Writer-in-Residence at Shakespeare's Globe, London from 1996 to 2005 and has also published many books. ,p> Together with a group of other artistes who include tonight’s players – Josephine Larson, Peter Oswald himself and Nemo Jones - the composer and performer of all the music for tonight’s production - he formed ”The Attention Seekers” out of a wish to rediscover connections between their disciplines. The players combine poetry, music, drama and movement in performances that embrace the realms between the forms. "By constantly shifting from one form to another, we hope to lift the audience to a new level of attention."

Well Short Shrifts certainly does this, giving us twelve completely different short scenarios which range from kitchen sink drama, comedy and tragedy, through science fiction, ventriloquist’s dummy, and cannibalism to Greek tragedy. You don’t know what to expect next!

The energy emanating from the actors on stage is remarkable, and their enthusiasm reaches right out to include the audience – during many of the scenes you feel part of the production. Props scenery and costumes are kept to an absolute minimum ,and yet with a couple of chairs or a bit of cloth we are transported to many different places – some funny, some poignant and some gruesome!

The evening passes by in a flash, surely a sign of a good show! I would recommend going to see this production - or should I say these productions – see what you make of them.

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