Reviewed by Regi Su

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This year, the world’s biggest little festival, celebrated their Sydney Gala Finals at the Seymour Centre to conclude the 2014 festival. During this year’s Short and Sweet Festival, over 162 plays were performed out of around 1000 nominated internationally. To date, the festival has catered for more than 3000 original new theatre works globally, since it began in 2002.

The top twelve at the Sydney Gala Finals were as follows-

1) Guided By Voices- This piece was creative and original. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this piece as it opened the set with humour, good nature and a quirky insight into the little voice commentary we often have while we humans make decisions. Excellent timing and excellent acting.

2) Nana- During this play, the audience roared with laughter at the sexually explicit humour presented by a little old lady. The synopsis states that the play “explores some of society’s most taboo topics: love, loss and sexuality among the aging.”

3) The Blue Balloon- I really enjoyed this play. For me it was touching, metaphorical and it showed excellent use of props and lighting. The use of space was very creative and the idea was very innovative, with undertones of human loss, even depression. Very poignant.

4) Stalemate- This was a wonderful play; innovative, original and terribly amusing, with relevant pop culture references. It magnified the frivolous in a fresh new way, as the protagonist had chosen to bake a cheesecake with a biscuit base, but the biscuit backfired with a lengthy lawsuit demanding his rights. There were puns galore.

5) Some Other Toy- This play engaged with an original futuristic concept, while the audience were in stitches over the dilemmas that arise when the use of a sex toy goes horribly wrong. Great use of lighting and well-acted by the two women who held the scene.

6) Wild Flowers- This play finished the first act with a bang and led us into the interval with a food fight. The fight arose from high-pressure tension between three ladies at a tea party and their social etiquette, rules and psychological bullying. An exaggerated flare up that left the audience in high morale by the night’s half-way point.
7) Therapist- I thought this was an exceptional play to open the second set with. It explored the power dynamics and power shifting between a therapist and her patient and, how these dynamics can shift at a moment’s notice when new information is uncovered and revealed. The plot twists showed an excellent release of information for the audience to connect with and the acting was impeccable, with Richard Carwin providing the biggest personality change. The innocence of the plot and its professional execution made this play a memorable one.

8) Level 2- This play was creative and inventive in a self-reflexive comment on humanity and human behaviour. It broke the fourth wall and made us, the audience, the subjects. The performance wonderfully engaging, a very interesting play to watch.

9) Moonage Daydream- This piece was a happy-go-lucky look into the lives of a married couple after a concert; the drunken confessions, the tired accusations. It was wonderfully hilarious and the actors managed to hold character for the length of the play. They dealt with real issues under the guise of exaggerated topics and the audience loved it.

10) Late for School- This play was so relevant and dark. Its heaviness weighed on me and gave me chills. We followed a stressed school teacher as she went through the motions of dropping her daughter to daycare, surviving school, then realising that perhaps she never got around to dropping her daughter to daycare. The release of information was flawless- for those who were swept along by the play and didn’t predict the ending, the shock factor would’ve been phenomenal. I realised halfway through and so the play then relied on the build-up of tension and suspense. Dramatic irony was carried by an excellent script and magnificent acting by Patricia Rowling.

11) Blabbermouth- A wonderful play held by three characters who’s witty, fast paced repartee engaged the audience with only one word at a time exchanged by each. The dialogue was excellent and the scripting was totally commendable. There was a great release of information with plot twists and turns, leading the play down unexpected pathways. I thoroughly enjoyed this play.

12) And What A Fine Morning It Is- TO finish of a wonderful night, this performance was a good natured satire of suburban competition- over a white picket fence. The escalation of humour that mirrored the rise in tension, gave us a great look into the pride and dignity of competitive men.

This year’s Gala Finals showcase some of the most professionally executed, original subject matter and talented artists this industry has to offer. I’m very interested in what next year has to offer.