Everything from slice-of-life realism through to surrealistic flights of fancy are on display in the second week of the Short+Sweet Festival. The pressure-cooker intensity of a 10-minute time limit has stirred up an outpouring of creative energy that covers a rich variety of theatrical forms.
Several works look for a pathway through the minefield of relationship issues, with playwright Adam Szudrich finding a fresh perspective on sexual politics as he asks us to consider the hapless husbands of black widow spiders, while the We Are Sailors company offers a macabre twist on the concept of a trophy partner.
In Fruit Salad, writer Jodie Ellis reverses the usual dynamic of parental anxiety as a recklessly romantic father is lectured on responsibility by his daughter and Northland Youth Theatre creates an imaginative bit of whimsy with a tormented love triangle involving two eyes and a nose.
The unexpected perils of dating are given a workout as Jess Holly Bates voices the desperation of a lonely heart in Pete Malicki's tribute to Valentine's Day, and Greg Gould's Last Drinks amusingly explores the way destiny can bring lovers together and tear them apart.
Aroha Awarau has scripted an uplifting romance with Where You'd Least Expect featuring a great performance by Cassie Baker who captures both the bubbly excitement and awkward anxiety of a first date.
Wider themes are canvassed in The Blue Balloon that sees Angie Farrow conjuring up an absurdist fable about the subversion of certainties.
Two other plays look at cross-cultural interaction, with James Crompton's Hongi deflating the mystique of a traditional Maori greeting, while Dead Leg Theatre Company have devised a remarkably poetic piece that juxtaposes wildly divergent views on the fractured state of New Zealand's race relations.