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Untold Stories – A New Writing Festival review

Untold Stories is a great platform for new and emerging talent to get their voices and work heard.

© Nathalie St Clair - Golburn

Untold Stories gives new writers and playwrights a platform to perform their new work. Rebecca Jones is the brains behind setting up the venue, and the Untold Stories event is performed over a weekend – with the same performers and plays performed each night on the Saturday and Sunday. The venue was set up by Rebecca, due to a lack of venues for fringe and emerging writers and performers, and what an excellent idea it is. The plays in the Untold Stories are generally short in length, and they are great flashes to whet the appetite. And all of the plays were wildly different to each other, showcasing a variety of different styles and talent.

Starting off was a play written and performed by Holly Kavanagh. A woman with a thick, Northern drawl – Lancashire, perhaps – who embarked on the quest for love, enjoying singles nights and performing some hilarious drunk antics and dancing. We thoroughly enjoyed her natural performance and it was a great way to kick off the evening. We’ve all been there, we’ve all done drunk karaoke, and watching her do so was very funny and wildly entertaining.

© Nathalie St Clair – Singles

My favourite piece was Stevie, also written by Rebecca Jones. The play features Noah, a wheelchair-bound young teenager with dreams. Dreams which are above and beyond those of which his body allows. The play focuses on the person inside. The person who is pitied, or talked-down to, or patronised. He feels like he is better than this and he is frustrated by the way people treat him. Humour and a real sense of getting to know the person ‘inside the body’, this was performed beautifully and poignantly. For me, this play really stood out.

Goulburn by Mike Shephard features two actresses, a break away from the solo plays that the evening consisted of. This was a bit grisly, and a bit strange, but also a bit interesting. It’s hard to describe it, without giving the game away, but it is set in Goulburn Prison and focuses on two, arguing women. The acting was good, and the plot was amiable.

Debuting his play – Bakersfield – was Chris Udoh. Kingsley Amadi’s acting was both intense and immensely watchable. Kingsley has the ability to keep you hooked on his performance and he is a great storyteller. I could have happily watched this in an extended version. The play ran for around 15 minutes, and this went in a flash. This was an excellent piece, and what a piece to showcase as a debut. I look forward to seeing what Chris comes up with in the future.

© Nathalie St Clair – Bakersfield

Ending the evening was a performance by Shyam Bhatt, who performed Treya’s Last Dance. I enjoyed her acting, and I was particularly impressed with the comic timing, and her range of accents. This was an extended slot, but rather, I felt that this went on for too long and it should be sharpened and cut down in length. This would highlight the great points of the drama/ humour found in a play that focuses on speed-dates, life and love in sunny Croydon, combined with a British-Indian heritage clash.

The other plays that were performed in the festival I found to be unfortunately underwhelming. They didn’t captivate my attention, despite their short length span. Of course, something like this holds something for everyone, but they just weren’t my cup of tea. Untold Stories is a fantastic idea, and I hope that it continues, as a way to develop new and potential talent.

Performance Dates: 30 September and 1st October. Theatre: SLAM, Kings Cross. Writers: Various. Producer: Mark Lindow and Shyham Bhatt.

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