Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Sunday 19 February 2012

Cruelty and Romance: Two One-Act Plays Delivered Differing Results @ Three & Ten Theatre

Cruelty and Romance (a programme consisting of two one-act plays at the Three and Ten pub/theatre) attempted to compare and contrast the break up of two doomed but differing relationships set in two different historical eras. Alas, it also highlighted the contrast between great, and not so great, theatre.


The second play on offer ‘Hang Up’, an early play by Anthony Mingella, is a master-class in small independent theatre.

Superb acting, and a well thought out stage and set design, also make this one of the best examples of craftsmanship and chemistry I have seen in a ‘head- to head’ play for some years.

And I’ve seen a lot of good plays in the last 15 years.

If this production was a car it would be a Jaguar E-type, pregnant with potential, purring and roaring in equal measure, as and when required.

The script was bound to be good, but it was the production values, hard work, talent, and a well thought out approach which made it such a great little production.

Indeed, such was its power; some of the audience were clearly moved to tears.

Laura Lexx was faultless in her role and was well supported by a very believable Elliot Quinn as her boyfriend.

By placing the two actors just far enough apart, and having ‘him’ just a bit nearer the audience than ‘her’, it was never possible to look at both actors ‘full on’ at the same time.

This was, in effect a kind of physical metaphor as the story has both people communicate by phone over a long distance, both literally and in terms of their own failing relationship.

It also served to intensify one’s own act of observation as your eyes moved from on person to the other, checking reactions and looking for signs.

This is the sort of thing people come to the Theatre for, but all too often do not get, and they usually pay a lot more than the very reasonable £8.00 charged here.

The Spun Glass Theatre Company, who produced this, is a real force to be reckoned with.

Alas the first play, Enigma had too many problems. To all intents and purposes it is not really a play, not even in the most modernist sense of the word.



It is a piece of writing for sure, and is not without merit, though more in its potential than its execution.

In short, it lacks the qualities expected of a complete work, even one that lasted about 30 minutes at the most.

It felt like a script that needed a lot more work doing to it.

All the “I do not’s” instead of “I don’ts” in the script added little authenticity and just made the whole thing feel a little pompous, and clumsy.

To be honest there was a real feeling of inauthenticity, in the existential sense, about the whole play.

Sian Selway was at her best when being physical; her touches and movements were strong and powerful.

But her style of performance would have been better suited (probably for this reason) to a large theatre.

In essence there was not enough subtlety, not enough nuance; all macro and no micro, if you folllow me.

Sian is 24 years old, still studying, and seemed to be playing an older character well out of her own zone of experience.

She also composed the music and has started her own production company, not a venture for the faint hearted, for which she deserves our respect. It takes a lot of guts and effort to do that.

There were signs of life in ‘Enigma’ but not enough to make it worth another outing.

I think that with a much better script and the chance to work more within her own zone of understanding the Sian’s ‘Stark Tree’ production company might well prove an asset to our city.

by: Howard Young (Arts Editor)




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