"Delightful wordplay in new play"
by Coco Hall for remotegoat on 11/04/10

'My balloon beats your astronaut' is one of the runners-up in Papatango's New Writing Competition. Set in a dystopian near future where bureaucracy rules, two prize winners are invited to come and collect a prize of a holiday, a timeshare, or something...

John Smyth with a Y, is the world's unluckiest man. If there were prizes for unluckiness he'd come second. Played with a wonderfully endearing klutziness by Owen Roberts, Smyth is a timid hero in a tanktop. His rival Crystal (Lizzy Watts) is a Chav in a pink tracksuit. A ruthless winner she lives to win stuff she doesn't need.

Mr Lovely (Christopher Saul) is the bureaucrat, normally faceless, who comes face to face with the public for the first time, as he quizzes Crystal and Smyth in a series of increasingly bizarre questions in order to determine which of them should win. Being in the same room as the recipients of his questionnaire for the first time brings Lovely to a crisis, when his imaginary childhood friend appears, and the unexpected and shocking real reason for the contestants' invitation is revealed.

Kerry Hood's play delights in its wordplay, as bureaucrats and contestants fence with language; idioms, malapropisms, literals and acronyms till the words almost become another character and the 60 minute play flashes by.

This is a very accomplished piece, Hood is a playwright to watch, who excels in playing with language. The only flaw I found was the slightly quick ending, which left me feeling slightly unresolved.

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