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Digital Sharing 1 features the first three plays of an ambitious eighteen-play collection of new writing, produced by 2020 startup KickItDown productions. A collaboration across the globe in conjunction with The Playground Theatre, this project gives voice to a huge number of established and emerging artists, producing an eclectic mix of new digital content available for streaming.
Kicking off this first collection is the play Let’s Meet Up by Ed Birch, a lockdown inspired short story created entirely on Zoom. After a period of ghosting, Rick and Sunni slide back into their usual banter, but it quickly becomes clear that there are things the pair are refusing to openly discuss. Birch creates two characters in a very typical bromance, their dialogue a series of set ups and knockdowns, set to the backdrop of social distancing. As the pairs teasing progresses, moments of subtext peak through touchy reactions and off-the-cuff remarks. As the conversation moves from dating, to gaming, to university placements, these moments become more poignant until the true nature of the ghosting becomes apparent. This careful evolution of the dialogue makes for thrilling dramatic effect in such a short piece. Whilst the performers (Bony Fonseca and Zishan Afsar) seem somewhat underprepared with their delivery — fumbling at times and not fully committing at others — they do manage to really make these critical moments punch, delivering a thought provoking piece.
Past The Pier, the next play on the collection, takes a step away from the visual storytelling of Let’s Meet Up, and focuses instead on an auditory narrative. Writer Sam Milnes brings a heartfelt story of eternal family bonds written in the stars: the protagonist Tommy reflects on his past as he looks over Blackpool Promenade. The view brings a sharp pang of loss and drives him to reflect on the cost of responsibility. Delivered in a thoughtful and measured reading by Danyal Ismail, the weight of the words sink in as the story unfolds and the tone begins to shift toward darkerness. Nicola T Chang’s sound design layers Ismail’s emotive tones with subtle seaside noises, pulling the audience into quite a specific setting whilst maintaining room for imaginative exploration. Milnes’ play is a very touching and thoughtful piece; seeming almost verbatim in both structure and performance, it adds an interesting dynamic to the trio of plays.
Finishing off the collection is Mousing, bringing a strong change in pace from the first two plays. In a tape only to be played upon his death, Albert reveals that he believes he is in mortal danger, and that all signs point to his cat Fifi as the villain. Written by Tom Misuraca, this audio monologue is a humorous look at our relationship with our furry companions — very familiar to anyone who has had the company of a cat. The heightened nature of this piece is matched brilliantly in performance by Tim Cartwright, whose voice adds opulence to the central character, perpetuating intrigue as the story unfolds. The most theatrical of the three plays, Mousing does not bring a huge amount of depth to the sharing, but as a comic interlude it is brilliantly written and captures my attention throughout.
In the curation of these plays, KickItDown brings contrast, challenging us with differing themes, whilst not bombarding with overly confusing shifts. Though I hope to see more complimentary collation further down the line, this sharing sets the groundwork for the plays to come, establishing the artists’ work and introducing the tone we are to expect moving forward. With such varied work, and such a wide pool of talent, I am very interested to see more.
Digital Sharing 1 is available to stream online, visit the KickItDown Productions’ website for more information and to watch.