First Published:

Brand Spanking New (Week Two)
(New Theatre, Newtown, Sydney | Until 10 October)

I didn’t make it to Brand Spanking New (Week One). What a pity. The opening night of Week Two was an entertaining lucky dip of new Australian writing.

Like a lucky dip, one never knows what is coming. It could be just what you wanted; it could be something you didn’t know you wanted until you had it; or it could be a bit of a letdown.

Fortunately, every plunge into the Week Two grab bag had something worthwhile, and judging by the audience reaction, everyone went away satisfied with most contributions.

Brand Spanking New season artistic director Augusta Supple has brought together a diverse and engaging selection of short works. From the first offering, the sharply funny Self Service — beautifully rendered by Christine Greenough — through to the quirky finale of King of the Mountain, Supple and the creative team have showcased the depth of talent and potential out there.

And isn’t it great that places such as New Theatre can provide such opportunities for writers, directors, designers, stage and production teams — and audiences.

Composer Catherine Robinson’s gorgeous music provided a thread to link the pieces. The ‘overture’, as it were, was a clever way to commence the evening and greatly preferable to simply launching into the first play, giving an overall structure and cohesion to the assortment to come.

One of the (many) challenges faced in presenting such a diverse range of works is the staging. How to provide a frame that is able to accommodate all needs? Designer Paul Matthews and lighting designer Miles Thomas demonstrate that it is possible to create the effect of a creaking boat/ferry in Lone Bird straight after the rather nasty laboratory of Siberia.

It is quite remarkable to witness how, with limited time, life stories can be conveyed. if i could be anything i would be something different is just two guys on stage having a conversation — but by the end so much is known about them.

It’s also amazing how quickly hilarity turns ugly. Polly Pocket Is Not a Princess has a twist worthy of a full two-act production.

From the sublime — White Wedding, my pick of the night — to the gloriously ridiculous (The Bermuda Love Triangle, which gets the nod for some of the best throwaway lines), Brand Spanking New Week Two deserves full houses for every night of its all-too-brief run.

And damn it, next year I’m making sure I get to both weeks!