The One Play, One Day (OPOD) series continues to go from strength to strength as it returns for its fourth outing – this time at Salford’s Kings Arms. Featuring a who’s who of the Manchester and North West theatre scene, the challenge presented by One Play, One Day is simple. A writer and director are teamed up with a set of actors and a mystery prop that must be worked into the story – all picked entirely at random and have until that evening to produce a 15 minute play before the paying audience.
Some of the short plays from previous OPOD’s have gone on to become stand-alone pieces in their own right (Jayne Marshall’s Fly by Night and Alasdair Jarvie’s Life in a Bubble two such examples). Whilst the anthology approach is nothing new, it is the method of production that makes One Play, One Day stand out. You genuinely get the impression that everything is hanging by the seat of its pants – and therein lies the addiction.
The four plays featured went from light farce to very serious drama demonstrating a breath of talent. Not all the plays are going to be for everyone, and it is a shame this edition only featured four plays, as I felt that the first two plays were slightly weaker than the latter two.
Ian Townsend’s Where There’s a Quill saw Karl Greenwood take his date (Sara Sadeghi) back to Victorian times as a historical re-enactor. A slight horror tale with more than one twist at the end, it was competent, if unexciting, start to the nights events.
Justin MacGregor’s The Seventh Day saw marriage counselling with a twist as Samuel Thompson (Fly by Night) was left bemused by James Dunn’s two wives (Kimberley Hart-Simpson and Emma Laidlaw (Coronation Street ’77)). A complex exploration of sexual relations followed with an amusing twist at the end.
Sally Lawton’s Searching for Emily was easily the funniest of the four with its tale of the Bronte gift shop and its harassed worker (Emmy Fyles, Fly by Night) who is sent by her belligerent boss (Jane Purcell, One Play, One Day III) to lead a moorland walk in the steps of the Bronte’s. What ensures is a hilarious romp culminating in a performance of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights!
The final play of the evening, Jane McNulty’s Standards was an extraordinary piece that saw Anthony Schaeffer’s retired Staff Sergeant reliving a particular moment from his army past he’d rather forget. With strong performances from Sian Hill (JB Shorts 5 and 7) and Danny Ryder (The Retreat), this was a sharp and thoughtful close to the evening and could well be the piece to benefit from further development given it’s use of a Super 8 camera as a dramatic flashback device.
Once again, the One Play, One Day team have produced another diverse evening of entertainment that mostly hits an impressively high standard. With the cream of North West talent in front, and behind the stage, you’re assured of a night of quality entertainment.