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Dive into the Springboard Festival

The Springboard Festival is on all week with the finale on Saturday 11 May at the Criterion theatre in Earlsdon.

Review by Allison Manning.

The Springboard Festival offers a wide range of shows to entertain, including poetry, music and short plays, some of which are premieres, showcasing local playwriting talent. Each night contains a selection of pieces, several of which are repeated during the week.

Sunday night, day two of the festival, opened with a remarkable performance of Starlings, a one woman play written and performed by Miranda Gold, based on her novel of the same name. It explores the story of Sally as she visits her brother Steven in Brighton and the differing ways they attempt to handle the traumas in their family, their parents’ ailing health and their grandparents’ experience of the holocaust. All the various characters of Sally’s family are brought to life through the different voices Miranda Gold uses for each of them as she talks about them. The simple set consists of a chair, a table and a small mirror, against a background projection of a line drawing of Brighton pier. Ranging from conversational to poetic, this play explores beginnings and endings and family relationships, and the difficult question of whether connecting with your family’s beginnings can provide closure and thus enable fresh starts.

Next up was a combination of poetry from Navkiran Mann and music from Wes Finch. Navkiran, who has previously performed her poetry at the Commonwealth Games, Coventry Cathedral and London Bridge Railway Station, shared a short set of meaningful and heartfelt poems on themes of grief, healing, hope and refuge, enhanced by Wes’s thoughtful backing tracks. This slot ended by Wes performing a couple of his own songs, based on poems set to music. There will be a chance to catch Wes performing with his band and other artists later in the week.

After the interval we were treated to Honey and Salt, a flash drama by Zsofia Hacsek, giving us a brief glimpse into the lives of overwhelmed Annie and stroke-affected Jane, portrayed by Lilian McGrath and Chris Ingall respectively. Poignant touches of humour are shown as Jane is struggling to redefine things as she loses words and meanings, Annie struggles to understand and we see parallels in their poorly, but well-loved, epileptic dog, with remembering to take medicine at the right time and the potential healing effects of honey. This playlet was followed by a thought-provoking poem from Zsofia Hacsek on the evening's theme of Diaspora, both in Jewish and general terms, exploring definitions of Homeland and being multi-lingual.

Rounding off the night was the powerful premiere of Grace, written and directed by Criterion company member Dean Sheridan. This starred Anne Collins as Grace who, 18 years earlier, had made a difficult choice, caught between her Catholic faith and her wayward pregnant daughter, which she has regretted ever since. Now, after the sad loss of her daughter, she is faced with her fiery, grieving granddaughter Charleigh (Rowan McDonnell) and together they must both learn to face up to the truth about their past and their future. This is a hard-hitting, well-written morality fable, with some dramatic twists and strong performances from the two central characters, as well as the supporting cast.

Springboard Festival runs all this week till its finale on Saturday 11 May. There are further opportunities to see Grace and Honey and Salt on Tuesday 7 and Wednesday 8 May. For more details and how to buy tickets check out:


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