When the founders of a theatre night are writers on the country’s top serial dramas, it’s not surprising JB Shorts is a formula that runs and runs.
Now in its 18th season, the evening of six new 15-minute plays by top TV writers, has become a regular highlight of Manchester’s theatrical calendar. And while the format is familiar the content of the plays is always a surprise, as is the line-up of talent involved.
This time around there are new shorts from founders, Lindsay Williams, Dave Simpson, Dianne Whitley, James Quinn and Trevor Suthers. There are also contributions for the first time by double-BAFTA winning writer, Jan McVerry, whose hard-hitting, ‘Making Waves,’ wrestles with issues of abortion, terrorism and the value of life in the confines of a vessel on a rough Irish Sea; and new writing from Peter Bowker, whose drama ‘The A Word’ can currently be seen on BBC.
Bowker’s play, ‘Flotsam and Gypsum’ is the highlight of an exceptionally strong line-up. Its strapline is: ‘A down-on-his-luck plasterer, a customer with dementia, and a biscuit tin full of cash.’ What sounds like it could be menacing, is instead a multi-layered, sensitive, and at times hilarious piece. It is a gift of a script, beautifully portrayed. William Fox surpassing acting to become, Paul, and revealing himself to be a skilled plasterer at the same time, with some quick skimming live on stage.
In all the evening is a topical mix, addressing issues such as the egotism of the digital age, fake news, abortion, dementia, relationship breakdown, infertility and pop reunions. And while it makes you think, it does so with a lightness of touch that has you laughing out loud at the same time.
JB Shorts is at 53two, Manchester from 7-18 November, 2017.