The We Plays**** (Hope Theatre)

Posted: October 1, 2016 in Theatre

A couple of years ago, I ended my review of The Me Plays with the words: *Andrew Maddock is a talent to be watched”. Well Andrew, thanks for inviting me to see this follow-up and thanks even more for proving me to have been absolutely right. As before, the plays could be described either as acted-out poetry readings or monologues in rhyming prose. Whichever, they are in a style that common sense dictates should divorce them from the real world, yet actually has exactly the opposite effect. Both characters here are outwardly comic, but their stories are raw and gritty, Maddock loving to lead the audience in one direction and then change course to visit dark places, before returning to the main road of optimism.

cyprus-sunsets-the-we-plays-2CYPRUS SUNSETS, directed by Phil Croft, begins with its character sitting cramped on a charter flight, waiting on the tarmac for take-off to Cyprus, the destination where he has spent his Summer holidays since the age of 17. Back then he was with his beer-swilling mates, more recently he had been with his beloved girlfriend, but now he is alone. Contemptuous of other passengers on the plane and, in particular, their unruly children, he could be a borderline sociopath. As in the previous plays Maddock calls him “Me”, inviting suggestions of an autobiographical element and, also similarly, much of what he writes is about the pain of not growing up. However, this time “Me” is played by another actor, the excellent John Seaward. Brash and laddish, he gyrates to ghastly Europop, but, underneath the joviality, there are clear signs of depression and the sunsets that have marked high points in his life take on another significance as he looks out from his hotel room balcony. Delving into this, Maddock explores in stark terms a form of human tragedy that is rarely studied from a male perspective and “Me” takes on another dimension. Most touchingly, the character comes to re-evalute everything, including the fellow travellers that he had sneered at earlier, and the sunset is followed by a dawn that reveals to him that life itself can be dependent on the kindness of strangers. Maddock demonstrates that the most profound of statements are often best made in the simplest of forms.

irn-pru-the-we-plays-1IRN PRU, directed by Ashley Winter,  introduces us to a character seemingly too much larger-than-life to be real, but I have actually met this lady (name withheld for legal reasons) and I can attest that every detail in the writing and Jennifer O’Neill’s performance is exactly right. Dressed in a tartan kilt, with a Viking helmet covering her flame red hair, this Glasgow lassie’s full name is Prucilla Elizabeth Ally McCoist a Wee Dash of Salt N’ Pepa Leigh. Presumably her family had little time for Celtic FC or for conformity. She extols Michele Mome as her lifestyle guru, without quite realising that this is not the perfect match, as she plods around job interviews, refusing to compromise over who she is and what she stands for. Female, Scottish, loud and ferociously proud, she ends up having an unfortunate dalliance with a security guard at a newly-opened Waitrose, but carries on undeterred. Maddock and O’Neill give a type of majesty to this defiant soul, making us believe that she really can take on the world and win.

Two little gems and Andrew Maddock becomes even more a talent to be watched.

Performance date: 30 September 2016

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