REVIEW: INK Festival in Halesworth shows off our emerging talent
- Credit: Origin8Photography.com
Upstairs at the White Swan pub in Halesworth, clothes are coming off and a bed unrolling as two tipsy young partygoers prepare to hook up.
But they keep getting distracted from their passion mid-flurry by a political disagreement about Zionism.
The briefest pause as actors re-set, and now we are in a US shooting gallery in a tense conversation about fear and trust with Chris Larner as the instructor.
Another blink, and he is a different man entirely in the next miniature play, as a middle-aged man tries to pray and finds that God is a pushbutton call centre and ‘Your call is important to us”.
It’s one of the day’s funniest. Moments later a New York firefighter is dismayed that his blind date wears a hijab.
That was a refreshing hour. Meanwhile five minutes across town in the Kings garage next to the Cut I encountered Alan Titchmarsh’s stalker, then a wrenching portrait of bitter lonely affection for a partner in a care home, and finally a remarkable solo performance by Amber Muldoon - one of INK’s youngest discoveries, as a woman steeling herself against harsh odds to protect her unborn child.
Then it produces them, mostly onstage but also as radio work, employing seasoned actors and professional directors including the award-winning Paul Schlesinger.
- 1 What time will the Red Arrows be flying over Suffolk this weekend?
- 2 Suffolk woman stole thousands from football club and school
- 3 Woman in hospital with life-threatening injuries after serious A143 crash
- 4 Revealed: The most popular Suffolk fish and chip shop
- 5 Is this tearoom near Ipswich one of Suffolk’s best-kept secrets?
- 6 Plans for two drive-through takeaways in Suffolk town
- 7 Town boss McKenna adds ex-Manchester United player to coaching staff
- 8 14 players that Town could target for a creative spark
- 9 Revealed: The top serious road crash hotspots in Suffolk
- 10 Huge barn conversion with amazing field views goes up for rent
It enlivens the town (Halesworth is definitely a place to be this weekend) but the deepest value of INK to the future of new writing can’t be overestimated.
Seeing your work come alive is not only a buzz, but an important education in how characters and stories develop.
I saw 18 plays on the first day (they are grouped, shown together in different sites) and as a critic can affirm that the standard varies from very high indeed to pleasingly entertaining or interestingly promising.
The festival belongs to its emerging unknowns, and the creative future of our region and nation, but every year INK invites a few “INKredibles”, better-known figures with local ties, to submit plays on a theme.
This year it was “passports”, and while one was startlingly dark, and Arthur Smith’s memory of his mother’s dementia profoundly touching, there was obvious glee after these Covid years in jokes about travel frustration.
We saw Miranda Hart’s portrait of fussing airport parents, Will Gompertz on the danger of making jokes at customs, and best of all two gloriously demented Border Force officials in Spanish Friend by Judy Upton.
I have seven more shows to see and look forward greatly.
- Libby Purves was The TImes Chief Theatre Critic 2010-2013 and now reviews theatre nationally on www.theatrecat.com