The Me Plays: Response Evening**** (Old Red Lion Theatre)

Posted: September 16, 2014 in Theatre

This review was originally written for The Public Reviews: http://www.thepublicreviews.com

In a move to encourage up and coming writers, the producers of Andrew Maddock’s excellent pair of monologues The Me Plays invited a group of them to see the show and write short plays in response. The seven plays staged here, after a week’s rehearsal, are the result. The plays, none more than 15 minutes long, some in rhyming verse, draw from Maddock’s insights into the pains, frustrations and humour of young adult life. The first, Burying a Stranger by Thomas Jones and Nikolai Ribnikov is a monologue by a young girl (Emily Aitchenson) recounting the chaotic funeral of her beloved granddad, coping with appalling weather and a drunken mother. This is the only play closely linked to Maddock’s Hi Life, I Win, the others drawing more from Junkie and taking up themes of dating, love, addiction and, above all, the internet. Tom Hartwell’s Privacy sees Facebook made human, lying in bed between a couple and wrecking their relationship. In Shaun Kitchener’s Offer, a young man and woman meet partly to go on a first date and partly to discuss the woman appearing in a porn film. Harriet Madeley’s Match introduces us to a couple who are habitual internet daters, unable to ignore their apps and texts even when in a hospital waiting room visiting an accident victim. In Henry Ashe-Jepson’s Cum & Go, Murray (a splendidly anxious Haydn Whiteside) has secured his first conquest for later in the evening and is bombarded with inappropriate “good luck” texts, including one from his granddad. The Ballad of Tab and Sal by Frankie Meredith, expands on the female characters referred to in Junkie and recounts the same events from their perspective, using similarly clever rhymes. This play in enlivened by two sparkling comic performances from Natalie Lester and Helen Booth. Six of the seven plays are highly amusing and inventive comedies, all proving the maxim that brevity is the soul of wit. However, mixed in amongst them is Saint, a tender and suspenseful love poem, beautifully written by Natalie Collie and performed with complete sincerity by an almost motionless Alice Frankham. All in all, these plays make up a tasty plateful of hors d’oeuvres, sadly on offer for one evening only. As previously noted, Andrew Maddock is a talent to watch and it is good to discover that others are following in his wake.

Performance date: 15 September 2014

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