It isn’t often that you walk into a theatre expecting, almost hoping, that the production you’re about to see will be an absolute shit-show. But those were my exact thoughts as I stepped into the Alphabetti Theatre to see Write Faster, a play that would be written in front of my eyes and performed on the spot by actors who had never seen the script.
On entering the theatre (having never been before, I was pleasantly surprised by its warmth and cosiness), I wondered if the unconventionality of the venue would be reflected by the production I was there to see. Turns out I was right, as what I ended up seeing was not only a heart-warming story of a sheltered family but a daring piece of experimental art.
At seven-thirty, we huddled into the theatre to watch the first scene of the play being written right in front of us. In all honesty, I went to get a cider during this time as, watching the play being written, I was worried that it would be so cringey that I couldn’t enjoy it sober. It ended up being called The Stuffed Canary and told the story of three sisters dealing with the death of their pet parakeet, Pedro.
When the play started, we got the pleasure of seeing the simple story come to life in its hilarious absurdity.
While I was impressed by the writers for managing to come up with a semi-coherent story so quickly, my enjoyment of the play was a testament to the actors. The three of them approached the script with melodrama while still being convincing, and they committed to their characters while still being self-aware; some of my favourite moments were when they broke character, scoffing at the writers, saying the wrong lines and telling each other to “stop moving” so they could see the script.
The hilarious moments were the ones that couldn’t be predicted while watching the script being written, such as the use of a sliced lemon to represent Pedro, the headless parakeet, and the carnage of the actors being given their lines one by one by the flustered writers in the third scene.
Though it was likely that no one in the audience had ever seen a weirder production, Write Faster was made special and memorable by the fact that The Stuffed Canary would, probably, never be seen again. Maybe it’s for the best.