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Shortcuts 2006 at the Union Theatre

Stephen Freer and Josh Bowers

Shortcuts 2006 is a festival held at the Union Theatre for a few weeks in October.

The festival is home to some of the newest writers in London who combine a series of three short shows to make up each evening's performance.

The bar and cafe adjoining the theatre attract much of the audience and provide a convenient source of concessions between each show. The young writers and cast seem to attract an audience of predominantly younger singles in search of an interesting evening.

The writers utilise the intimate atmosphere created through the theatre's close quarters and restricted stage area by incorporating the audience into the action. Volunteers are selected during some shows which make each performance unique and make improvisation a vital aspect of the cast's performance.

The writers use many techniques that are not common among more traditional theatre performances. One of these techniques is the use of technology common among the younger generation. The shows do not use magnificent lighting or sound effects, but rather incorporate iPod's and videos into the direct action of the show.

Videos are used in the background of some shows that engage the visual attention of the audience while not distracting from the verbal action of the cast. Complex monologues are timed perfectly together and with the video obviously demanding dedication and long rehearsal hours from the cast.

The shows are well written and directed and reflect a bright future of London's upcoming writers. Low priced tickets make the show affordable and well worth a visit but also contribute to quick sell-outs.

Shortcuts 2006 boasts work by London's hottest new writers, and the newest writing has to be in the piece Teasing Fictions by Campbell Edinborough. The plot is completely improvised on stage by a volunteer from the audience. Like inquisitive children, three volunteers deftly tease a story from the volunteer by asking a succession of leading questions. The storyteller says whatever pops into their head which creates some truly intriguing and humorous moments. Teasing Fictions is irresistible and perfectly suited for the intimate venue of the Union Theatre.

At the Union Theatre until Saturday 21 October; see listings information

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