FEATS Festival: Alarms


We went to FEATS!

The CTC’s entry to the 2013 FEATS theatre festival in The Hague was Alarms by Michael Frayn, directed by Debbie Taylor.

A typical Frayn piece, Alarms is a fast-paced farcical comedy. It is set in the home of Jocasta and John as they host a dinner party for their friends, Nicholas and Nancy. It is however, doomed to failure. No-one seems to be able to manage to open the wine with the new-fangled corkscrew – indeed, a trip to the local Accident & Emergency department is necessary when Nancy cuts her finger when trying to do so. An unidentifiable “chink” drives them all to distraction, as does the unending buzzing of the cooker and the incessant ringing of the telephone. Add into the mix a voice leaving messages on the answering machine and the car alarm sounding and you can imagine the chaos. They leave to take Nancy to the hospital, setting the house alarm as they leave but forgetting the car keys … then forgetting the code to stop the alarm … no wonder John brings the play to a close by sitting with a saucepan on his head!

The cast
John – Shawn Perman
Jocasta – Surabhi Goswami
Nicholas – Josh Shires
Nancy – Gaby Neubert-Luckner

The festival
FEATS (the Festival of European Anglophone Theatrical Societies) is an annual competition among English-speaking amateur theatrical groups resident in mainland Europe. It’s also a chance to see four evenings of first-class entertainment consisting of three one-act plays per evening.

When the curtain goes up, the actors perform either published plays or original scripts. A time limit for the performance is imposed (minimum 25, maximum 50 minutes). The performances take place under the critical eye of an invited professional adjudicator who is a member of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators in the UK. The adjudicator’s duty is to award points for each performance and make constructive criticism afterwards.

We have seen some breathtaking and moving performances over the years. Some have gone on to win other festivals, and some original plays have been published. And it must be remembered that everyone who takes part is doing so “just for fun”. Everybody relishes the chance to take over a complete professional theatre for a while.

The competing teams have only ten minutes to place their set and only five minutes to remove it afterwards, leaving a bare stage for the next group. They have just two hours’ practice during the day of their performance, which includes all the technical preparation necessary for the production.

The festival started many years ago as friendly rivalry between a few groups in the Benelux countries, and has since grown to a four-day festival of international renown. There are activities during the day to ensure a busy weekend, including workshops, tours of the town/region, discussion forums and the now famous Fringe, which provides a platform for the most varied types of entertainment.

You can read more about the festival here