Review: 15 Minutes Live

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Holbeck Underground Ballroom, Leeds

That a Sunday afternoon saw a set of disused railway arches South of the city of Leeds packed with over 100 people is testament to how ingrained a part of Yorkshire’s cultural scene 15 Minutes Live has become.

Created and curated by the always inventive Slung Low, the concept is simple – a series of radio plays, each around 15 minutes long, recorded live in front of an audience.

The gem in the idea is that it is a Forrest Gump-ian treat, you really don’t know what you’re going to get. And if you don’t like what you’ve got, something else will be along soon.

Last Sunday’s highlights were a witty and uplifting piece from Judith Adams, in which a philosophising baby swaps life ideas with The Angel of the North and James Phillips’s Lullaby which moved people to genuine tears with sensitive use of the music of The Smiths, sung by Sheffield’s Ed Cartledge. All of the work had its own merits, but those two stood out.

Both these pieces showed the real strength of 15 Minutes Live – the format allows the writers to do anything. A baby, too young when we meet to even sit up on her own, ends up flying across the Newcastle skyline.

In Lullaby the world falls asleep as the lone survivor, battling against the urge of slumber wanders deserted streets. Either of those on stage or even screen are going to be expensive, labour intensive work to create. Slung Low, with this format, does it with simplicity.

Slung Low also commissioned a new piece, found from an open call out, An Anatomy of Grappling by Chris Fittock. A tender, funny and moving piece set in the world of wrestling, the fact that it was chosen from over 200 entries from scriptwriters from all over the world leant weight to what this event theatre has become. The audience braving the cold of The HUB were well rewarded.

Bradford, May 19.