Newmarket National

10 Minute Play Festival

The Snap'd Auditorium at The Old Town Hall

July 22nd, 2017

A Review of  


I went to The Old Town Hall on historic Main Street Newmarket Saturday (July 22) afternoon to catch the first of four pods of the Newmarket National 10-Minute Play Festival with much anticipation of some ‘sound theatre.’

What I received was merely a roll of the dice – six 10-Minute plays in the inaugural kick-off Set/Reset Pod – four of them were merely ‘okay’  and two were so good, it really encouraged me to see more!

As the explanation of Set/Reset  said, “Just when you think you’ve got it all set, someone comes along to push your buttons.”

The first four, which didn’t appeal to me, we’re total “artistic theatre” of the avante-garde theme. The kind of theatre, which the actors enjoy most. The final two, were not.

The first, ‘The Mess’, was about a woman in a nursing home with the onset of dementia who is visited by her sister’s daughter. What comes to light is just so typical in families today, there really was no ‘wow’ factor and really it was over the top depressing.

It was well-acted by Helly Chester as the old woman and Julia Hussey as her niece. Written by Catherine Frid and directed by Michael Halfin (the man behind the whole 10-Minute Play Festival Concept), it failed to be entertaining. Just too dark.

Next up was 'Daze in the Park', which as a script, was a complete failure …. A really stupid premise for a play and over-acted way over the top. All about some sort of love takes flight in this story of ornithological transformation. Written by Holly Wyder and directed by Chelsey Fawcett, it starred Marina Comes; Mark Kreder and Kyra Van Den Enden.

Immediately following ‘Daze in the Park’ was '241' – another dismal attempt at dramatic theatre. It all centred around Heather Dick, as the older woman, and Isabella Kondrat as a younger woman, debating whether to answer a phone while waiting for an appointment. The whole premise is just plain dumb. Any time I’ve had an appointment, there isn’t a phone to be found. These women spend 10 minutes deciding who should answer the phone and what to say when they do. Written by Mark Foster, and directed by Emma McGreeghan, ‘214’ was well- acted, I can say that with certainty, but featured a very, very weak script to work with.

The next depressing entry, which followed immediately, was ‘Two-Hander’, starring two wanna-be actors, Scott Maudley as Trey and John Sellens as Daniel – again, very well- acted and presented with enthusiasm by these two, but despite a catchy ending, it dropped the ball. Written by Norm Reynolds and directed by Chelsey Fawcett.

The full house crowd was getting anxious now for some good theatre. Applause for the first four of the Pod was minimal. However, the whole mood changed with the presentation of the World Premiere of Canada’s top playwright, Norm Foster, and his ‘The Hoofers’.

Laughter and applause was immediate in this extremely well-done 10-Minute entry, which had the audience in stitches with Scott Griffin as husband Wing and his wife Billie played by Isabel Hornstein. I Can ‘t say enough about this little socio-drama set in the living room of their house and featured a spirited dialogue with no missed cues.

Directed by the 10-Minute Play Festival originator, Michael Halfin, the audience was very appreciative when it ended with a full few minutes of applause and hooting. Now the crowd was in the mood for some really good theatre to wrap up this Set/Reset Pod and get their money’s worth!

Next up and for the finale, was a hilarious romp into the dark world of vampires – with ‘A Love in Vein’, written by Callum Worsley – who should consider writing a lot more plays, if this is the caliber he writes at.

Starring Helly Chester as the mom and Kyra Van Den Enden as her daughter, who brings home her new boyfriend – none other than Vladamir himself (Mark Kreder who was fabulous). Directed by Sean O’Brien, it was a hilarious look at what happens if your daughter brings home a vampire as her new boyfriend? And the twist at the ending was in keeping with the whole theme of this 10-Minute play. Just really enjoyable!

‘A Love in Vein’ (major play on words) was the perfect ending to a relatively fast six, 10-Minute plays done in quick fashion, with no delays – so in a matter of 75 minutes, the grateful audience had six glimpses at ‘live theatre’.

Really in today’s YouTube, Instagram , Facebook, Twitter society, this 10-Minute Play format just may become the new ‘norm’. They set the tone early, present the story, and either have you wishing for more, or wishing to get on with the next 10-minute play.

Artistic Director Michael Halfin and his entire crew should be heartily congratulated for presenting these four, six-play, pods over two days (with a Gala on the Friday night). 10-Minute Plays are a whole other genre that seems to be catching on in our sleepy town of Newmarket!

The final two plays made up for the first four in the Set/Rest Pod which were artistically-sound, but not to my liking. To say the least, they were definitely ‘lacking’ in substance. But what a great afternoon at the Old Town Hall all in all. And since this was the inaugural year for the Newmarket National 10-Minute Play Festival, it can only get better for next year!

Heather Dick, playing the older woman, and Isabella Kondrat, playing the younger woman, scramble to get the phone, in '241' -- a 10-minute play presented Saturday at Old Town Hall.

Isabel Hornstein consoles husband Scott Griffin in the World Premier of 'The Hoofers', by Canada's foremost playwright Norm Foster, as part of the Newmarket National 10-Minute Play Festival.

A fabulous Mark Kreder portrays a vampire in the hilarious 'A Love in Vein'. He's joined by his new girlfriend Kyra Van Den Enden, in just one of six entries in the Set/Reset pod as part of the Newmarket National 10-Minute Play Festival, held this past weekend in Newmarket.




The new genre of plays at the

Old Town Hall!

Designed by DPK Design 

Festival Volunteers


Interested in Theatre but not as an actor, playwright, or director? The Very Useful Theatre Company is seeking Volunteers to support the third annual One-Act Play Festival.  Let us know how much time you have, we are seeking all levels of support, a few hours once or a full Festival support position.

No experience necessary!

We support High School Volunteer hours as well.


 “We would like acknowledge that the Town of Newmarket is located over lands originally used and occupied by the First Peoples of the Williams Treaties First Nations and other Indigenous Peoples and thank them for sharing this land. We would also like to acknowledge the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation as our close neighbour and friend, one that we strive to build a co-operative and respectful relationship with”.

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