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The We Plays, Hope Theatre, review: ‘Painful, honest and muddled monologues’

PUBLISHED: 08:00 12 October 2016

The Hope Theatre

The Hope Theatre

Archant

Both performers work on the audience’s imagination to create a wider world with minimal props and set

Andrew Maddock’s two short monologues have the painful, honest, muddled and occasionally pedestrian style of a therapy session.

The first, directed by Phil Croft, is performed energetically by John Seaward and concerns the suffering and survival of a man struggling to recover from the pain and guilt of a bitter breakup. He flies to Cyprus, where he has been many times previously with a stereotypical party of loud, male package tourists. This time he is alone. On a tiny bare performance area, supported only by sympathetic lighting and sound (Tom Turner) he creates, with shuddering accuracy, the relentlessly macho, lager-lout scene of his previous visits, including his eventual meeting with a gorgeous female. Hints of gentler aspects to his character are suggested by his frequent yearning to experience again the romantic sunsets of past visits. But these prove elusive and his sensitivity is less convincing than his relentlessly selfish, unpleasant, albeit very funny, persona.

The second play, directed by Ashley Winter, portrays a more balanced, less narrowly self-pitying personality, but just as lacking in self-awareness. Jennifer O’Neill as Irn Pru, has the excellent comic timing of a natural comedienne and engages sympathy with her vulnerability while beguiling with her wit. But the character’s silliness and eccentricity are ineffective protection from her desperation and mounting despair. Like Me in the previous play, she is in thrall to contemporary cults of celebrity and music, which are scant help with the real predicaments of everyday human suffering. Both performers rise magnificently to the challenge of a small stage, which limits both performance and design. They work on the audience’s imagination to create a wider world with minimal props and set. However, I question the writer’s decision to write in doggerel, presenting them with problems of naturalistic delivery which was a distraction for the audience.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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