The drama and laughs are really heating up this week at Short+Sweet Dubai, as the biggest ten-minute theatre festival in the world moves into its final week at DUCTAC in the Mall of the Emirates. And there's a real international flavour with plays from Dubai writers, the US as well as visiting groups from Sharjah, Abu Dhabi., Pakistan and even New York!

Already six plays have reached the Red Carpet Gala Final on February 22nd, where the best eleven plays of the festival will battle it out to be crowned the best in Dubai: The Royal Shakespeareans's Present "Romeo & Juliet" (Judge’s Choice Winner Top 30 Week 1), Last Drinks (Judge’s Choice Runner Up, Top 30 Week 1), A Charming Affair (Judge’s Choice, Wildcards 1), Sure Thing (Judge’s Choice Winner Top 30 Week 2), Sam’s Friend (Judge’s Choice Runner Up, Top 30 Week 2) and The Man who was Music (Judge’s Choice, Wildcards 2).

The last five plays to complete the Red Carpet Gala Final line up will be decided this week with two more plays to come from the fantastic line up of Top 30 Week 3, which plays Wednesday to Friday night this week at 8pm.

It’s our best line up of the Festival so far with a topline selection of the best ten-minute plays from all over the world, including some by local authors - a high quality line up definitely not to be missed.

First up we have Pool Deck by local writer/director Enzo Messina and starring Samineh Arshi, Mel Kay, Ramya Bala and Faris Kayello. Two young women sunbathing at a private swimming pool in Dubai. Life doesn't get any easier than this, one would think. Or does it? You won’t see the end coming in this revealing drama.

Next up is Noreen, written and direct by Akshay Gehi and presented by one of Dubai’s top theatre groups, Theatrics. Nooren. She's gone now. She was the most annoying, ego-centric, selfish girl on the planet. But she was still my best friend. When is it really ok to start healing? Performed by Shihas Salim, Mehr Thakkar as Young Noreen and Malavika Varadan as Nooren.

Then get set for some big laughs with (un) Requited by rising local writer Mohamed Lamrad and directed by Taraash Mehrotra. What happens when Cupid sticks to his traditional love methods in uniting couples in this modern age? Does he fail or does he miserably fail?

This hilarious comedy stars Paurav Shah as Cupid, Suraj Sadeesh as Anteros, Prithvi Prajosh as Anas, with Zerleena Khan, Sarath Eric Leander and Sharon Sebastian.

Our fourth play for the week is the very topical Here to serve you by USA writer Babs Lindsay, directed by Gargi Basu and starring Aqeel Sharif, Pawan Manghwani and Manjunath Naidu. A kiss is just a kiss and a shoe is just a shoe … isn’t it?

This is followed by a fascinating drama set in Afghanistan. Written by J. Thalia Cunningham from New York, Unveiled explores what happens when a well meaning US NGO official comes face to face with two of the women in Afghanistan she is trying to help.  Unveiled hints subtly at the physical/social/emotional facades we all choose to mask ourselves with from time to time. Are these veils for better or for worse? Directed by Ankita Manikantan and performed by Anthea Mendonca, Meghana M Fareed and Lucy McFeely.

Our final play in the first act is set to be a real treat with the searing drama, Heart in the Ground by Douglas Hill performed by leading Australian actress Sally Greenland, fresh from her stunning performance in The Painter in Top 30 Week 2,  and Oliver Marriott. In a crumbling Kentucky farmhouse a young couple find themselves dealing with loss and love as the familiar hand of the law threatens to tear their family apart. Directed by Abe Bandon.

One of the top theatre companies from last year’s Festival opens the second act with Shut Up Kitty!! Presented by Sharjah’s Theatrewallas Productions and directed by Dr. Shailesh Upadhyay this twisting tale starts with auditions being announced through local and social media in search of new actors. More than 123 participants register and the session in progress- that is when the role play and reel play turn into a real play.

Starring Tuhinanshu Chaturvedi, Sapna Bhatt, Menka Hemrajani, Ronak Shah, Vikram Sharma, Tejal Shah, Prakash Soni and Dr. Shailesh himself.

Next up Short+Sweet Dubai is very pleased to present Abu Dhabi’s top local theatre group, Resuscitation Theatre, as they present their hilarious send-up of Euripides's Trojan Women, called Trojan Bitches. A parody of the famous play as the women of war-torn Troy really come to their senses and decide to murder the monster known as - Helen.

Written by Faisal Al-Jadir and directed by Maggie Hannan it features a first rate cast of Angeleene Abraham, Assyl Yacine, Carlos Paez Gonzalez, Faisal Al-Jadir, Felicia Corral, Juzbi Walia Shahpuri, Sanoop Dinesh and Aditya Vikram.

One of Dubai’s best poets and playwrights Frank Dullaghan is up next with DNA. Directed by Amit Kapur and starring Katie Fava, Anthea Mendonça, Azad Raza Khan (star of the Sure Thing from Top 30 Week 2) and Khurram Suleman the play asks who can you trust these days? A loose American bride, an angry man, a DNA test, and a very naughty surprise.

Loom Ensemble, all the way from New York, takes the stage next with the unpredictable and fun Burning Fresh. Written, directed and performed by the audaciously talented Raphael Sacks and Neva Cockrell, Loom Ensemble (www.LoomEnsemble.com ) weaves together equal parts dance, music and theater, and collaboratively creates vibrant ensemble performances, to nourish a sense of basic delight in our audiences, our peers and ourselves.

And our final play for the night sees the return of one of Dubai’s top theatre companies, Third Half Theatre with It's All Been Done Before, written and directed by Sanjeev Dixit. Coming up with an original play for Short+Sweet isn't easy, especially when the darn characters keep getting in the way! Starring Dixit, Disha Joseph, Sumedh Kulkarni, Dharam Veer Sood, Butool Zaidi, Shantanu Mhaisalkar, Minali Patel, Cmith Sarkar with crew support from Anitha Kulkarni.

It all adds up to an amazing final week of Short+Sweet Dubai as we count down to the Red Carpet Gala Final on Saturday February 22nd.

And don’t forget our final Wildcards selection on Friday February 21st at 3pm where we will present another great selection of ten-minute plays, presented by some of Dubai’s upcoming, raw theatrical talent as well as NUST Dramatics Society from Pakistan.

The full programme for this week is as follows:

TOP 30 WEEK 3 - Wednesday February 19th to Friday February 21st at 8pm

WILDCARDS 3 - Friday February 21st at 3pm

GALA FINAL PREVIEW - Saturday February 22nd at 3pm

RED CARPET GALA FINAL - Saturday February 22nd at 7pm (Followed by Awards Ceremony)

To get tickets to Top 30 Week 3, the Wildcards and the Red Carpet Gala Final just go to www.timeoutickets.com or call the DUCTAC BOX OFFICE on 04 341 4777 or just get them in person at the Box Office at DUCTAC.

Remember this is your last chance to catch all the fun and action of Short+Sweet Dubai. Don’t miss it! We look forward to seeing you there.

Alex Broun
Festival Director
Short+Sweet Dubai