There aren’t as many lovely things in the world as there were a few years ago.
We’ve lost Woolworths and its pick ‘n’ mix, we’ve lost Victoria Wood and just the other month Saga Noren, quite possibly the best female detective TV ever created, solved her last case.
It’s why we should cherish the annual thing of beauty which is Slung Low Shorts. The premise is simple – get a bunch of jobbing screenwriters to pen 15-minute plays and then stage them together over the course of a week in the Leeds home of theatre company Slung Low.
Now in its third year, SLS tends to be a snapshot of life in Britain. When it began in 2016 in those halcyon pre-Brexit days it was like being embraced by a warm, lovely hug. Last year, as the world looked increasingly unstable, SLS was all about austerity, tattoo parlours and Margaret Thatcher.
This year, it’s equally eclectic. There’s a tale of a Muslim punk girl band called Ninja Division, a nod to transgender issues, an examination of social inequality centred around a tower block and a reminder that when the world turns violent it’s often the quiet ones who turn out to be the real heroes.
However, where the showcase really shines is in the plays that explore the minutiae of ordinary life.
In Cricket, written by Matt Owen and directed by The Yorkshire Post’s own Yvette Huddleston, the glorious awkwardness of a first date is played out against the backdrop of a Headingley Test, and both Matthew Connell and Sarah Naughton put in beautifully understated performances as Bob and Janet.
SLS closes with Cutting the Cake by Lisa Holdsworth, one of the event’s co-producers. It’s about moist fruit cake, officious border control guards and infuriating mothers who do actually know best. It’s also a slice of loveliness – and right now that might be just what we all need.
To July 22.
Charity Cheeseman - 4 stars