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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Brighton 2010 arrow Big Bite-Size'd Brunch/Tea Party
Big Bite-Size'd Brunch/Tea Party
Published on Thursday, 13 May 2010

I’ve a confession to make: this was the first time I’d seen Bite-Size Theatre, despite their elevation to the status of Fringe Institution over the last couple of years.  Of course, I’d heard all about their popular smorgasbord of back-to-back ten-minute plays, but the traditional Bite-Size Breakfast slot is just a bit too early for me.  So I was relieved to see this year’s programme timed at 11.30; and I was treated to some civilized entertainment fitting for the civilized hour.

My favourite piece was Tangled Net, a period drama set in an alternative history with top hats, posh accents… and email.  Gloriously hamming up their roles, the three characters tapped out their messages on the keyboard of an old-school typewriter, telling a punchy and humorously touching tale of unrequited love and ultimate redemption.

Toothbrush Tales was a triumph created from the unlikeliest of ideas, with two ramrod-straight actors playing a pair of toothbrushes (yes, really) coming to terms with their owners’ divorce and their own imminent separation.  It was genuine laugh-aloud stuff, as mundane matters of the bathroom were scaled up to crisis on a human scale.  The Crunch, on the other hand, mixed comedy with tragedy, articulating the hopelessness of a shop’s loyal staff facing the permanent closure of their doors.  I hadn’t realized how much I’d bought into the defeated manager’s poignant pep talk until, completely unexpectedly, I felt the sting of tears.

Perhaps most intriguing of all, Room Without A View was set in a waiting room for the afterlife, where an enigmatic guardian offered cryptic advice on an impossible and irreversible choice.  Funny and interesting, philosophical and edgy, it built to a wonderfully unexpected ending and a delivered a rewarding final punchline.

There were two further pieces I liked rather less: Waiting for Hashim, a kind-of backpackers’ comedy of manners which never quite took off for me, and Jude, an astute tale of gawky young love which was, perhaps, a little too ambitious for a comparatively young actor on a very bare stage.  But there’s the beauty of the Bite-Size format – with so much variety in the package, I can happily skip over the ones I didn’t like, just as you perhaps will skip over some favourites of mine.

I’d have liked to have seen one more “heavyweight” drama given a try – with the exception of Jude, all the plays ended with a joke – but overall, it was a well-balanced and solidly entertaining morning.  The menu of bite-size morsels varies from day to day, so see the same line-up as I did you’ll need to go on a Saturday.  But don’t worry too much; I’m willing to bet that Sunday’s small plays are every bit as perfectly-formed.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.