REVIEW: Chippy & Scratch Night (The London Welsh Centre)

Chippy & Scratch Night

Chippy Lane Productions was founded by Rebecca Hammond in 2016 with the aim of championing Welsh writing outside of Wales. The first Scratch Night was held in October 2016 at the London Welsh Centre on Grays Inn Road to showcase works in progress by Welsh playwrights and was well received. Chippy & Scratch returned to the Welsh Centre in June 2017 with readings of eight new short plays for a packed room in the upstairs bar.

The eight plays performed were selected from the forty responses to the call for submissions. The actors and directors worked together through the day of the show to prepare for the evening and all delivered strong performances, some with scripts in hand, some without. The plays ranged from storytelling monologues and tightly written two-handers to excerpts from larger pieces, offering a snap shot of a longer show. The lack of set and staging pushed the writing into the spotlight; showing how a well written script can build rounded characters in just fifteen to twenty minutes.

The London audience voted for their favourite play at the end of the evening and the four with the most votes will go on to be performed at Chapter in Cardiff on 18 July. The winning shows were: You Gotta Go There to Come Back, by Poppy Corbett; one woman’s tale of moving from Cardiff to London as she turns thirty and seeks a new, more exciting life. Tiny Mad Animals by Neil Bebber presents the touching fallout from a housemate moving out to live with his girlfriend. Outside Blisters by Ruth Majeed is a brilliantly observed presentation of three girlfriends on a night out clubbing with their smartphones. The play with the most votes overall was Cardiff Boy by Kevin Jones, a beautifully written monologue with a nicely chosen nineties soundtrack as the background to a tale of an awkward young man growing up on the outskirts of Cardiff, terrified of the girls at secondary school and accepting that he will never be the cool one among the boys.

The writing talent on show was impressive with a number of award-winning writers presenting new work. While all the plays have Welsh roots, they have something to say to a much wider audience. Some of the work presented in the 2016 Scratch Night is being developed into longer pieces and I’m sure some of the plays from this evening will have the same fate. There are certainly some names to watch here.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans

Chippy & Scratch Does The Diff, Chapter, Cardiff, 18 July 2017.