This year's Short+Sweet competition repeats last year's pattern: Week 2 (of three) fields a much stronger line-up of plays than Week 1. Overall, Week 2's nine offerings are nicely observed, amusing and have depth - no mean feat within the 10-minute time limit.

Particularly thoughtful and well-scripted are those plays directed by their own playwrights.

The South Afreakins starts with the title couple conversing off stage - it's only when "they" come onstage that we realise they're both played by the same multi-talented actress/director/playwright, Robyn Paterson (they're named after her parents).

Glen Pickering's The Break Up humorously and energetically presents the dynamics of several relationships remarkably well, aided by some snappy acting and a furry elephant suit.


Bruce Brown's Boys' Outing is the stand-out - a believable schoolboy exchange which unfolds from crass skiting to serious revelation.

It is superbly acted by Graham Candy and Ryan Dulieu; the former's quiet intensity and tangle of hair over deep-set eyes are a perfect counterpoint to the latter's gravity-defying fringe and quasi-Jerry Seinfeld delivery.

The Guilt Sniffer is a bit of fun delivered with gusto ("evidence is for atheists," says the detective with the psychic nose dismissively) while Emma Newborn projects the right amount of quirkiness to make crazy-lady antics endearing in The Smell of Rain by Renee Boyer-Willisson.

The torture-porn cheap-trick of The Gift by Mike Lowe very effectively shoots auditorium tension sky-high, and we also got nervous during A Different Client, in which a reserved older gentleman keeps an appointment with a dancing call boy for unusual reasons.

A couple tries to out-do each other in recriminations in The Wedding, and The Gospel According to Bowser is a gently-delivered fable about the harsh randomness of life; young Mia Curreen-Poko makes a very cute rat.