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Edinburgh Fringe 2023


Flying Bridge Productions

Genre: Comedy, New Writing, Theatre

Venue: Assembly George Square - The Crate


Low Down

Brian Parks is renowned for writing world-class and award-winning absurdist theatre, and his newest two-hander, Shortlist, is no exception. Audiences should be prepared for 50 minutes of quick-wit, superb acting and a lot of laughter along the way.  Clever, fun and at times just a little bit silly, this production shows what can be achieved when the most important aspects on stage are simply the performers.


Every year, the shortlist for the top prize for writing is announced, and Higgens – played by Daniel Llewelyn-Williams and Houghton – played by Matthew Boston – are once again vying for the converted award. Always groomsman, but never grooms, they compete year after year, only to watch a less superior author take away the prize. This year, however, they are determined to change their luck, by seeking inspiration and hopefully the blessing, of the great Author. Legend has it, that those who visit the gravesite of the Author will be bestowed with luck and inspiration. Resolute that this is their year, a visit to her house is in order… except both Higgens and Houghton find themselves on the same quest, at the same time, just hours before the awards is due to be announced.

With Brian Parks behind the keyboard… or pen?… audiences are always going to be gifted with incredible wit, well-crafted sentences, and detailed discourse. With no more than a blank stage, a couple of chairs and a few hand props, it is up to the actors and the dialogue to paint the full picture. We are taken seamlessly through bookshops, city streets and the Authors home all with detailed precision. Higgens and Houghton are constantly trying to out-do each other not only on the page, but through their exaggerated use of language, and Parks quick-fire pace never faulters.

Daniel Llewelyn-Williams and Matthew Boston are perfectly cast in this ultimate war of the English language. Finishing each other’s sentences in a quick tempo rhythm throughout the show, their timing is impeccable, and their pace is almost exhausting to watch as well as listen to. They both seemed to move effortlessly across the no-space-wasted stage and their performances were measured when required, only to reach an almost Faulty Towers-like absurdist level the next.

Equal to the writing and the performances is the direction by Margarett Perry. Utilizing all corners of the stage, the action moves across unknown moments in time, as well as numerous locations, in an effortless flow. Choreographed moments give way to naturally flowing conversation and the changes in lighting easily transition use between times and places.

The enjoyable and must-see elements of this show come from the match-made-in-heaven combination of the author, actors and direction. Perfectly fitting pieces have come together to make a creative jigsaw that doesn’t give the audience time to anticipate the action, rather just listen to the words flow and watch the story unfold.

Shortlist really must be experienced by anyone who appreciates excellent theatre, brilliant writing or those who simply want a good laugh.