Strongest Ever Gala Final for Short+Sweet Takes Shape

After what has been an incredibly strong festival to date, the Feb 20 and 21 Gala Awards Final for Short+Sweet Sydney 2009 is starting to take shape – and a mouthwatering prospect it looks already!

Included in the Gala are the 12 best plays of the festival – 11 chosen by our judges as weekly winners and the final from the popular People’s choice vote.

The first of the eight best of the best line up so far decided is the surprising Permanently Engaged by Victorian writer Dan Clancey, from Week 0 at Newtown Theatre. Written as part of the Short + Sweet playwriting weekend in Gippsland last year and a recent hit at Short + Sweet Melbourne, this quirky comedy explores what happens when two men find themselves locked in adjacent toilets at work. They have little in common with one another. Or do they? The play was directed beautifully by Katherine R. Davis with strong performances by Ted Crosby and James Belfrage as the unwitting occupants.

The Judge’s Choice as the winner of Week 1 Newtown Theatre was the spellbinding Mandragora by David Sharpe from NSW, a stunning edge of the seat thriller that plays out in just ten minutes. The runner-up for best dramatic script in Short + Sweet Melbourne 2008, Mandragora is directed by directing debutant Lisa Eismen with a tour-de-force performance by Kieran Foster, supported by Ash Nidhi, Leanne Zaccar and Susan Stapleton. After a fatal car crash memories get confused. Isaac (Foster) thinks he can remember something, but did it really happen? And if he can’t be sure of his own mind, what can he be sure of? What else might be uncovered if he keeps digging?

The Judge’s Choice from Week 1 at the Seymour Centre Downstairs was North by talented Sydney writer-actor Marcello Fabrizi. Directed by Jamie Oxenbould, himself an acclaimed actor, this very close-to-the-bone comedy shows what happens when an inner city couple go on a country weekend in search of organic produce, tranquillity and something real, man – with superb performances by Fabrizi himself and Jess Macauley.

From Newtown Theatre Week 2 comes NSW playwright David Bulmer’s A Little Blue, directed by prize winning young film maker Rene Hernandez, making his theatrical debut. Bulmer’s beautiful script, which attracted a stunning cast of Cheree Cassidy, Graham Hyland, Ocatvia Barron Martin and Brendan May, tells intersecting stories of two whales washed up on the beach and the young couple driving to save them. Sometimes if you want to get found you have to start by getting a little lost. Love will always find a whale!

Seymour Centre Week 2 gives us from the USA, Greg Hardigan’s haunting 49 stories about Brian Mackenzie, the winner of Short+Sweet Melbourne 2007. Hardigan’s moving true-life tribute to his childhood friend was brought to life in a highly theatrical production by talented young director Felicity Nicol with a stunning performance by Moss Halliday-Hall as “Greg” and an ensemble of Rikki-Lee Bevan, Christina Stagg, Justin Locke, Grant Moxom, Alex Acosta , Wayne Underwood , Pamela Churchman, Nerissa Churchman and Silvan Rus.

The sixth of our Gala Finalists so far decided is Chocolate Face, the very narrow winner of Newtown Theatre Week 3. Directed and written by talented young Sydney writer-director Trent Atkinson, from an idea by Tom Pelik, the play starred Pelik and an extraordinary performance by Kristy Best in a tense two-hander exploring racism and identity in Australia now. Presented by Rush of Blood Productions.

At the Seymour Centre Downstairs stage legend John Derum’s tour-de-force performance in A Safe Pair Of Hands was announced as the Judge’s pick at the Seymour week 5. Written by the man behind the famed Column 8 at the Sydney Morning Herald – Pat Sheil – and directed by the talented Fleur Beaupert, the play presents a very different take on John Simpson and his famous donkey.So much has been written about Gallipoli and the Anzacs, but was the truth even worse? A first-hand account from an eye-witness to mythology, which is sure to have the RSL up in arms – especially now it has made the Gala!

In Week 5 Judge’s selection at Newtown Theatre, and more evidence of the success of Short + Sweet’s Development structures such as Crash Test Drama, Charles Freyberg’s moving and poetic play The Rose was chosen as the winner of the week and now moves through to the Gala Final. With extraordinary performances from Lynden Jones and Andrew Cutcliffe, The Rose is a tightly written, beautifully acted, witty and incredibly touching play revisiting a friendship, love and life shared; words unspoken, forgiveness yet to be found.

As always at Short + Sweet the Gala Final will sell out so patrons are urged to secure their tickets early for one of the highlights of the Sydney theatrical calendar.

Short+Sweet Gala Awards Final Fri 20 and Sat 21 Feb 7.30pm. Seymour Centre Everest Theatre

Tickets $40 / $35 conc. To book visit

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