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JB Shorts 9 (Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Venue: Joshua Brooks
Where: Manchester

JB Shorts continues to entertain and showcase some of the most well established and talented performers and scriptwriters. Now in its ninth season, once again the team takes over the cellar in Joshua Brooks to bring us six new fifteen minute plays from top TV writers and experienced directors.

The emphasis of the night certainly seems to be on comedy rather than serious drama but this was welcomed by the audience on the night I attended. Being a newcomer to JB Shorts, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect but I certainly wasn’t disappointed; the dark brickwork of the basement was definitely livened up by the sound of laughter.

The evening commences with Anjum Malik’s comedy Baaji on the Beat featuring a police role play training exercise. There are plenty of amusing twists in the plot when the sequence does not quite go as the Sergeant (David Crellin) plans and police officers, Zarina (Sara Sadeghi) and Alan (John Catterall) are left to resolve the situation.

Next up and providing a pleasing contrast is Sarah Bagshawe’s Old, New, Borrowed and Blue, an entertaining and strong duo performances from Samantha Power and Liz Carney. As this well plotted comedy unfolds we realise that nothing is as it first appears to be, culminating in a sinister turn of events.

The satirical #Are we Cool? adopts a TV review show set-up. It is highly funny with strong performances all round, particularly from manic columnist Sophie (Alison Darling) and affected critic Aaron (Dominic Vulliamy).

Dave Simpson’s Blind date is the highlight of the evening for me and judging by the chortles from the audience, most other people too. A two-hander exploring the perils and pitfalls of dating websites - particularly when you’re not entirely truthful with your description of yourself. Directed by Alice Bartlett, Angela (Susan McArdle) and Andrew (Will Travis) perform a brilliant sequence when they prepare to meet on their date.

This is a brilliant and satisfying night out in one of Manchester’s longstanding establishments. And for only £6, it truly is value for money. JB Shorts 9 manages to fill a Mancunian beer cellar with little nuggets of comedy gold, sending you off giggling on your way at 9PM either for a night out in the city or home in time for your supper.

-Kristy Stott


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