If you can’t get to Edinburgh but still want to see some fringe theatre you could do worse than dropping by the Southwark Playhouse. All this week new writing company Descent are show-casing a series of small offbeat playlets under the banner Now We Are Three – celebrating their third year in business. Each night offers one brand new play, which the audience can comment on and potentially help mature alongside four previously performed pieces. The quality might be patchy but since all the plays are short and snappy it doesn’t seem to matter that much (although they desperately need to sort out the air con in the smaller of the new building’s two rooms). All the offerings seem to revolve around nervous women and awkward men, comedy-dramas with moments of revelation for middle class characters with tunnel vision.
Last night there was evidence of at least two diamonds in the rough. Chloe Ewart is surely a star in the making, performing her own play Penpals and deftly conveying drunkenness, hope and heartbreak as she tries to negotiate a messy break-up. Ziella Bryars’ monologue about the world’s worst Blind Date also demonstrated a sly wit. These two highlights also featured strong performances by Ben Higgins and Stephanie Lodge. Special mention has to go to compere Simon Fielder who kept things flowing and kept the energy level high despite the stuffy heat in the venue.
If there is any criticism to aim at a laudable project like this (surely something all London theatres should do from time to time) it’s that the event could have connected better with the area it’s in. We were expecting more focus on the issues and characters that populate the Elephant the Castle rather than sliced white types from the Home Counties, though perhaps this is something that Descent can fold into their next three years.
Now We Are Three runs from 20-24 August at the Southwark Playhouse.
Londonist saw the show on a complimentary free ticket.