December 2010 FINALS

Well, it was a spectacular end to the year for Crash Test Drama, with our December finals being played out before the fullest full house imaginable. The theatre was beyond capacity, with extra seats being put along both sides of the stage to accommodate everyone. A great turnout for a great finale.

To kick the night off, we had a play called Beautiful, written by David Bulmer and directed by Lisa Eismen. A young women is contemplating jumping off a cliff into the ocean when she's approached by a man with a beautiful perspective on life. This play was very funny and intelligent and beautifully performed by Gerard O'Dwyer (as Marty) and Ashley Bale (as Rose). It came fourth in the audience vote, but there wasn't much in it. Second place had a mere two votes more! Beautiful will be performed as part of Short+Sweet Sydney 2011.

Second was The Mediator by Vee Malner, directed by Raj Muneshwar. With Uma Kali Shakti as the mediator and Katy Avery and Maurizio Degliesposti doing a brilliant job as the dysfunctional couple, this play was an enjoyable piece - if you aren't bothered by the f word! Who'd have thought someone as pleasant as Vee would have that in her?

Third was Flat Pack Blues by Tracy Richardson, directed by Fleur Beaupert. A funny play about a man (Damian Hannan) trying to make in Ikea cradle while his wife (Jennifer Faletto) is going into labour. James Belfrage was hilarious as the Swedish instruction manual, which showed Tracy's clever understanding of those who speak English as a second language - not an easy thing for a writer to get right! Michael Browning played the teenage boy frustrated that his dad was making him miss softball training. This fun piece won the Popular Vote runner-up and will be in the Wildcards in Short+Sweet.

Fourth was Normality by Dona Parise, which William Russell directed. Best Actress winner Clare Martin did a superb job as the hard-bitch wife, whose dying husband (Alastair Buchanan) wants nothing more than for things to remain as they always have; normality. The judges awarded Dona's play their highest accolade - Judges' Choice - and it has earned itself a spot in the Top 110 of Short+Sweet Sydney 2011.

After the interval was writer TOAST's Coleslaw, Bacon and Crisps, expertly handled by Best Director Nir Shelter. Best Actor winner Kim Knuckey and Best Actress Runner-Up Sandy Velini discussed the wonders that are sandwiches, especially those with unusual combinations of ingredients and the classic ham, lettuce and tomato. Coleslaw, Bacon and Crisps was so popular it almost doubled the number of votes received by the play in second place. A great team effort and we'll all be seeing TOAST's play again in the Top 110 of Short+Sweet Sydney 2011.

Sixth for the night was Sock, written and directed by the talented Kate Toon. Matt Thomson and Amanda Stephens Lee did an excellent job as the couple going through a breakup, with the touching analogy of the found/reunited/separated socks to mirror the characters' lives. Kate has moved to the Central Coast and will be missed dearly by the Crash Test regulars, but I'm sure we'll all see her around. If not her, it will be hard to miss her plays!

Next up was talenthouse Steve McGrath's Suits With Wings, directed by Kingsley. Starring Steve himself as Alfred Hitchcock and Martin Grman as Heath Ledger, Steve's clever satire on actors and the industry drew some laughs from the audience and some knowing nods from many of the actors in attendance. Steve's work as both a writer and an actor is always enjoyable and I'm sure we'll be seeing more of him at Short+Sweet.

And finally, to round off the night, writer/director Deborah Mulhall's The Candidate. This hilarious comedy about a Slovakian presidential candidate hiring a couple of fashion consultants was a great note to finish a successful year of Crash Test on, with great performances from Chris Lewis, Valentino Arico, and Best Actor Runner-Up Damian Hannan. Deborah pulled this one off the shelf and dusted it off for us, showing her fellow writers that we should never forget about our older scripts.

A few acknowledgements before I post the results.

Firstly, a thousand thank yous to Alex Broun for not only MC-ing Crash Test this season, but for bringing the show to Sydney in 2008. Without Alex, we may never have had Crash Test, which would have meant 80 fewer plays and several hundred fewer opportunities for actors this year. Thank you Alex!

Secondly, thanks to the Newtown Theatre and all of the staff who've helped the show: Mark Cleary, who very generously donated the space to us this entire year; Johann Walraven for manning the bar/ticket booth for the past six months; and all the other staff who've helped us out.

We mustn't forget Lincoln Hall, who was our MC for the first half of this year and also the assistant Coordinator. Thanks again Lincoln for your hard work.

Most of all, we must thank and pay tribute to all the wonderful actors, writers and directors who offered up their skills to make the show happen. It's been great having everyone involved and we should all be very proud of the hard work we've put in and the talent we've shown off.

The Results

Judges Pete Greenaway, Allan Walpole, Jackie Greenland, Christine Greenough and Gerry Greenland pooled their considerable resources to decide which actors, writers and directors deserved the last round of prizes for the year.

Popular Vote First Place: Coleslaw, Bacon and Crisps

Wins a place in Short+Sweet Sydney 2011

Written by TOAST

Popular Vote Runner Up: Flat Pack Blues

Written by Tracy Richardson

Judges' Choice: Normality

Wins a place in Short+Sweet Sydney 2011

Written by Dona Parise

Best Actor: Kim Knuckey (from Coleslaw, Bacon and Crisps)

Best Actor Runner-Up: Damian Hannan (from The Candidate)

Best Actress: Clare Martin (from Normality)

Best Actress Runner-Up: Sandy Velini (from Coleslaw, Bacon and Crisps)

Best Director: Nir Shelter (Coleslaw, Bacon and Crisps)

Playwright's Encouragement Award: Suits With Wings by Steve McGrath

Thanks to everyone for supporting Crash Test Drama and we will most certainly be back again next year. I hope to catch you all again in March/April of 2011, if not sooner.

Best regards,

Pete Malicki

Coordinator - Crash Test Drama