Sonnet 61: Short People

Reviewers Rating

Sonnet 61: Short People is a strongly engaging piece, written by Stella Kammel, which situates the audience behind a peephole into Girl’s internal tussle with her love for her best friend. She tries online dating, therapy, and a relationship with said best friend which eventually turns incredibly sour since she’s polygamous and Girl struggles with the idea of sharing her abundant love with somebody else.

Kammel is skilled at capturing natural conversation effortlessly in her script. The dialogue is frequently, nonchalantly funny, and deftly melts into more poignant moments as Girl tries to reconcile love with friendship and keep a handle on her mental health as she is emotionally fettered by the personal tangles this weaves. The play is effective in exploring the tricky, and self-moulding developments that come with deciphering what the heart really wants. As a side-line, Girl gives online dating a go, while her friend is navigating her attraction to a boy in playful, comic, and typically cringey scenes most people will identify with as she nervously yet anticipatedly edges closer to having sex for the first time. As Girl’s view of this friend shifts from the platonic to the romantic, she decides to try therapy, and these are the moments where Kammel’s authentic piece strains slightly at the seams. The scenes morph into clichés in a way that feels sometimes stale and fatigued, with the therapist using cheesy buzz phrases which do nothing to help the patient. And although the comedy springs from the very staleness of the dialogue, it gives a sense of grasping for slightly easy laughs that have worked the ribcages of audiences since Freud’s lifetime.

The cast is consistently strong, and the players work well with the characters that Kammel creates who could almost have been plucked off the streets. Letty Thomas excels as Girl, bringing emotional vigour and wry humour to the role which contrasts with Natasha Cowley’s vibrant portrayal of her friend. They are expressive, varied, and consistently brilliant performances which mark this set of recently graduated actors as ones to keep an eye on.

Sonnet 61 does well in balancing humour with pathos. The characters are empathetic, well-formed, and thoroughly human, and this firmly grounds the action without losing the spark of an engaging plot and witty dialogue to its realism.