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Temp/Casual (24:7 Festival)

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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  Now in its sixth year the 24:7 theatre festival, a week of world premiere one act plays, continues to be at the forefront of promoting new writing talent in Manchester.  Beginning the day after the Manchester International Festival finishes, it's a testament to the strength of the arts scene in Manchester.

  Written by Steve Timms and directed by Ben Power, Temp/Casual is a locally based piece concerning the fortunes, or lack of, of four university graduates three years after graduation. Once fresh faced and enthusiastic entrants to the working world, all four are now, in one way or another, disillusioned, broke and yearning for something better. As the story progresses three of them learn the lessons they need to achieve success whilst one is devastatingly dogged with bad luck and sadness.

  The play is led by four principal characters; Susan (Kate Newton), Martin (Marlon Solomon), Adam (Leon Jan) and Stick (Karl Dobby). Other supporting roles are played well by David Corden, Isobel McArthur and Julia Chapman-Lavelle with Chapman-Lavelle giving a most convincing turn as a frustrated and angry office worker.

  Of the four leads it is Karl Dobby that really shines. Despite some lack of clarity in the writing Dobby injects Stick with a deeply sad sense of loss and frustration and it proved very difficult not to be genuinely moved by his difficulties.  Newton and Jan are solid enough in their roles, the slightly tempestuous Susan and the arrogant Adam respectively, but sadly Solomon lets the side down and is wooden as the poet Martin.

  With no real set to speak of the play is performed utilising a series of boxes and other small props and this works well under Powers direction. Due to the shortness of the piece it’s no surprise that the characters lack some depth and issues regarding drugs and complexity of relationships are skimmed over, but this play could easily be lengthened. It’s an interesting subject matter and deals with contemporary issues. It’s not brilliant yet, but it has potential.

- Malcolm Wallace


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