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.
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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.