Short Fuse, is marketed as ‘a night of short stories’, that takes place monthly at Komedia Downstairs. This marketing is clever: it completely draws the attention away from the importance of the storytelling and focuses entirely on the story itself. It is a night for writers to showcase the art of short fiction not the fine art of storytelling and although I did, over all, have a very good time, I do think that is a shame. As it has to be said my reception of the Nouvelle Noir stories themselves was significantly impeded by poor delivery. After all, a narrative, no matter how compelling, cannot fail to be deadened somewhat, by a monotone and muffled reading.
A noteworthy exception was A.K. Benedict, a former Sussex student, who read ‘The Laboratory’; the eighth chapter of her latest novel ‘The Beauty of Murder’ which although somewhat absurdist in isolation, was read in such an endearing manner that you could not fail to warm to her. Even if that impression did jar, and not only slightly, with the gaseous, swollen and maggot infested testicles she was so meticulous in describing. James Burt’s enthusiasm also added much hilarity to his bizarre tale of the weird and wonderful life of cartoon actor Bugs Bunny and Charlie McQuaker’s wonderful Irish accent brought his Brighton based fiction of senseless violence vivdly to life. Artistic director of Short Fuse herself Tara Gould was also without doubt, another highlight of the show. Her first attempt at writing nouvelle noir, ‘Red Sails’, was utterly engrossing for both the harrowingly matter of fact narrative of a rape victim and her emphatic delivery.
Komedia Downstairs was the perfect venue for exploring the sordid underworld of Nouvelle Noir; the stage was lit only by the red glow of the themed visuals and the flickering flames of candle light, the room dark and the material performed even darker. For that reason, regardless of inconsistencies in performance, if you like short stories, Short Fuse is returning to Komedia on the 6th December, this time with the theme of the Uncanny, which will definitely be worth a look in.