Smorgasbord is an eclectic mix of theatrical experimentationAmaya Holman

If you don’t mind, I’ll start with the fifth play performed at Smorgasbord. Lydia Langford had a very fine idea. A Short Interval was set in the interval of Hamlet, which for an English Lit Fresher, who really likes Hamlet, was set to be ideal. In the slightly eccentric, not too probing post-show panels the writer saddened me with the claim that there wasn’t a specific reason the interval was Hamlet's.

I don’t believe her. It was a very well framed narrative, beginning at the theatre bar with a man breathlessly reporting an incident to the bar tender (the focus of the play). The emergency services are called, we hear nothing more of it. An old friend from University turns up, problematic parents, and a drowned wife, who doubles as a ghost. When that Ophelia-esque figure wanders into the theatre bar, it becomes clear to the audience: the incident at the start was the bartender’s death.

A Short Interval wasn’t everything I’d wanted, but as is the nature of Smorgasbord, it was an intriguing carving of those ten minutes of air. It’s like looking at a not quite finished sketch, a storyboard, or standing behind the camera at a dress rehearsal: you see the ceiling’s rigging more, even though it’s always there. That’s what Smorgasbord is and I quite like it.

“Filled with inspired moments, Bretan’s play did well”

Social Purgatory by Anna Schmatenko warmed up as it went along, and it’s hard to be first. But perhaps the social awkwardness of first dates has been done? An Uber is ordered at the very start because the date’s not going too well. I did feel at times in the next ten minutes that we were all waiting for the Uber too.

But there were little moments of charm, in a morass of ticking off the necessity of having expletives every so often, and some political messages about repression and sexuality. Up next, It’s a Rum Do by Juliette Bretan was very strong. Henry Eaton Mercer was thoughtful and played like some old Lear already, which was quite precocious.

Set in a care home, it was well put afterwards that in some ways fluidity and volatility of memory can be presented as quite funny; the writer explains how delicate a line it is to tread, and I agree. But I liked this awareness of the need not to take everything too seriously, and that the serious things in life can be thought of differently. Surely this is the perfect place to ponder such ideas.

It’s a Rum Do got the humanity and inhumanity of those places: a gusty carer shouting about pills interrupted a delicate scene of reminiscence. Filled with inspired moments, Bretan’s play did well, if little things needed to be polished: Mercer’s character stammers over ‘I think it was’ when recalling the year he came back from war; he would know.

Joe McGuchan’s Good Person was a short hum about a friend accidentally stealing a sandwich from Boots. To be honest, I was more interested in the curious comparison of supermarket meal deals. Good Person might have fallen into pub philosophy – but, I like pubs. Afterwards, the writer was asked a question, and slightly off-balance responded: ‘This is a really complicated moral question!’ That might have been the problem.

“There were little moments of charm”

Ghosts by Bohdan Tokaryskyi was part of a wider plot, it was explained, and I’d be eager to see the rest of it if it is ever performed. In this snippet form it wasn’t quite there yet, but God it was good when the woman character excruciatingly drags a chair over to join the others’ conversation after a beautifully positioned question from the father, but I think the effect was probably unintentional. It was at times absurd, though I don’t think it always intended to be.

Johnny King’s Vaseline Gasoline wrapped the taster menu up, with a series of what the script called ‘post-coital aftermaths’. It had a levity, not taking itself too seriously, which is sometimes refreshing. The static, very verbal based structure, I liked. There was a very decent euphuistic line about gardens and hosepipe droughts, which had a warming ring of The Good Life. Nothing at all to do with the actors, it could be very good for radio: perhaps that’s an idea

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