Feast from the East, Ink on the Road, Headgate Theatre, Colchester

With a good pun in the title, some of the best new short plays from the Ink Festival came to town.

The festival celebrates the short play, and based in Suffolk, it features work by writers that have a strong physical or historic connection to East Anglia.

As with all evenings like this, it’s a mixed bag of nine plays, and personal taste will influence which piece you enjoy the most.

The most well known names are Richard Curtis, who offers Another Suitcase, Another Hall, a funny sketch featuring an actress attempting to sing the Evita classic and a director who becomes rather too obsessed with the suitcase, and Shappi Khorsandi. Her short, Nina’s Not OK, is a monologue featuring an angst ridden love struck young woman, with, as you’d expect, some good one liners. They both feel a little slight, however, compared to some of the other plays.

In encouraging new writers, the Ink Festival certainly scores, and is to be celebrated. Whilst this means that a couple of the pieces are too long, and the writers are anxious to tell us too much, each play has much potential to encourage further writing. This particularly true of the intriguing After Prospero by Martha Loader, a parable set 400 years after Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and sisters Ariel and Miranda meet for the wake of their father, Prospero. Slightly over-written, it teems with ideas and originality, and is a topical warning of climate change, among much else, and very well performed by Amber Muldoon and Tessa Wojtczak, who also give great performances in other pieces. My personal favourites were Wellington by Scarlett Curtis, a beautifully reflective piece of family love in which three generations of women watch the Royal wedding, and the superb Mixed Up, a funny and perceptive monologue by James McDermott, beautifully performed by Will Howard, who is one of the strongest actors in the troupe.

Simply staged, as they are touring, there is perhaps a lack of theatricality in the plays, they could all be easily performed on the radio. But the emphasis is very much on the writing, and the cultivation of writers.

They are looking for submissions, so if you fancy your chances, go to inkfestival.org for more information.