Theatre with Teeth, one of Exeter’s student run theatre companies, have set themselves the bold challenge of writing, directing and performing a play in the space of 24 hours, a feat most would find daunting if not insurmountable. As I take my seat in the M&D Room the excitement and anticipation of the audience is palpable, and as the lights dim I honestly have no idea what to expect.
The performances are split into four short productions, each one differing in style and genre but all connected by the theme of time. The first production, ‘The Future is Back’, hinges on the idea of ‘A Lifetime’ and tells the story of Isabella, whose peaceful life is rudely interrupted by the appearance of a martian invader. Although the performance is a little unpolished, the lightsaber vs. fork duel is a stroke of comic genius and proves a great start to the evening.
The second performance of the night, ‘Cube’, focuses on the theme of ‘Autumn’ and is written by Katherine Stevens who should be applauded for creating a brilliant script. The scene is set in a waiting room where a pregnant sloanie and her obnoxious hippie sister in-law have an awkward encounter with fellow waiting room patients.
The script is wonderfully self-aware and the awkward miscommunications and double entendres make for hilarious viewing. The timing of the actors is also impeccable; not an easy feat considering the little time they had to practice.
As the third play opens, the audience is transported away from the waiting room and into the research lab where we follow the time travelling adventures of a scientist hoping to fix his past mistakes. I was secretly hoping for at least one ‘Back to the Future’ reference during the evening and this production did not let me down. Harry Smithson, who is hilarious as the regretful researcher, delivers some great one-liners and the transformation from awkward professor to confident playboy is executed beautifully.
The evening ends with a play entitled ‘Southern Bell and the Devil Girl’ based on the idea of a girl named Annabelle turning ‘21’. The scene opens in the Deep South with Annabelle’s parents playing the banjo through a beer can, it’s not quite ‘True Detective’ but it works, and warning the audience that her best friend is the devil.
Ben Mallett undoubtedly gives the performance of the evening as the vodka hungry, boy mad ‘Annabelle’ who will do anything to escape her dreary life with her redneck family. Although a few lines are missed, the actors improvise to make it work and actually make the lines funnier as a result.
Overall, Theatre with Teeth have pushed themselves and their theatrical talents with fantastic results and I am thoroughly looking forward to their next set of 24 hour plays next term.
Check out Theatre with Teeth and more on the making of the 24 hour play productions on Facebook.