The Write Now Festival is a one-act theatre festival running over the next week. It offers local performers, directors and technicians the chance to showcase their talent and includes three home-grown plays, including Excess Baggage.

The Write Now Festival organisers must have been bowled over when they saw the final production of Excess Baggage, written by David P. Griffiths.

The play unfolds enjoyable, well constructed characters who genuinely prompt an emotional response and the dialogue is bitter sweet and witty. The subject matter, which largely revolves around trust and relationships (and a bit about social class), has depth and belies Griffith’s true potential as a playwright.

That’s not to say this wasn’t great – probably surprising – festival theatre, more that this reasonably established writer will go even further if he wants to.

His young, squabbling, about-to-honeymoon couple played with great sympathy, synergy and comic timing by Emma Grace Arends and Chris Cookall – who I suggest you look out for – allows Griffith’s deftly observed relationship dynamics to be brilliantly showcased. It shows promise – then delivers right to the end.

The young couple’s ‘issues’ emerge during their airport wait when the husband agrees to look after someone else’s luggage, much to the shock of hairdresser wife, Kristy who too quickly summarises: “You can’t trust anyone these days.” The conflict between the young couple’s reactions to their custodial duties ensues as do their unresolved opinions about one another and a few home truths.

Donna Lesley Price, who plays the many times married divorcée providing the older, more experienced voice of marriage is another well cast actor. As well as delivering some sour honesty – “People like me … always find faults and that’ll be the end of the relationship” – May supplies some good, funny lines too. And like the others, she takes charge of the stage and feels comfortable there.

His appearances are brief but security guard, Rob Boyle is, well, a convincing one and with a little more confidence we might see him gracing the stage more often.

Director, Jennifer Airey can’t be left unchecked because she achieved something that’s actually quite difficult to pull off – and that’s an all-engaging play with minimum props.

Although she was lucky enough to work with an obviously talented bunch, Airey must have provided strong direction and confidence because Excess Baggage is a play that’s genuinely entertaining and (proper laugh out loud) funny but felt meaningful and thought provoking at the same time. I’d tell my best friend to go see for himself.

Excess Baggage
The Actors’ Studio
Seel Street
The Write Now Festival runs until Saturday 23 April

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