Thursday, February 18, 2021

MONOLOG 4: GROUP B (Chickenshed Theatre)****


By Louise


Available until: Saturday 20th February

This is the fourth year that Chickenshed Theatre have had a monologue competition so it’s called Monolog 4. There were eight monologues selected for performance (though only seven are available to watch at the moment) and this is the second and final group.

The Sleep Stealers is by Hannah Smith and it’s about an eleven year old girl who lives with her mother. The girl has a very difficult time. It is the middle of the pandemic and she has other problems which I won’t give away. I think she might have autism. She has a very special interest (she mentions a book and has a lovely picture beside her bed), an unusual choice of best friend, she has social problems, she takes what she is told very literally and she sometimes has ‘episodes’ where she can’t remember what has happened.

If she does have autism, I think this is a lovely and positive portrait of an autist (I think that’s the right word). She is a really lovely and intelligent girl who cares about other people very much, but she sometimes shows it in ways that suggest she’s not thinking about other people at all – though this is something that can happen to non-autists too. Lucy-Mae Beacock plays the role and she is very talented. She gives the girl a really likeable personality and she describes the situations her character finds herself in very well. Director Malita Brooke has set the entire play in the girl’s bedroom which supports the idea that she can talk comfortably in a safe space, but she has more difficulty in other places.

Whatever Happened to Abigail Winters is by Sophie White. Abigail starts the play a seventeen year old girl who isn’t feeling very sure of herself, but really wants to do something with her life. We get to see Abigail at various points in her life and we see all the ways her life changes as she gets older. Some of the story is sad, but I think it is very well-written and interesting. I think it is very realistic too and an important story which a lot of young people should watch. I think it might be good for my sister Imogen to watch it, but she is only fourteen and these monologues are 15+.

Elia Criscuoli is the director and she has had lots of ideas of how you can show the ways Abigail has changed and I think these work really well. Anna Constantinides plays Abigail and she is brilliant. She plays Abigail in lots of different ways, but you can believe she is still Abigail, it isn’t like she is a different person in each section of the monologue. She gets to show a big range of emotions and everything she does is really impressive.

Come Closer is by Rebecca Hardy. It’s about an older lady called Lisa with an unhappy marriage and a new friend called Brenda. Brenda has a very special interest which she shares with Lisa. Lisa enjoys it too and gets involved in things she wouldn’t usually get involved in, but she’s happy. I think the writing is very good because Lisa is describing things which usually wouldn’t be the best idea, but she seems like a really lovely person who would never want to hurt anyone.

Ashley Driver is the director and he has set the scene up with Lisa just standing on the on the Chickenshed stage with no scenery or props. I think it is really ironic that she is very obviously on a stage because stages are very important to the story. Julie Wood plays Lisa and she really shows how lovely Lisa is. She has to talk about a lot of different situations she has been in and she makes everything really clear and even though she is telling the story, she still shows some of the emotions Lisa felt when it actually happened and it works really well and it makes it feel really in-the-moment.

Metamorphosis is by Lucy Dobson. The lady in the story has recently become a widow and she talks about all the different decades in her life and how she changed and how expectations of her changed. Some of the things she talks about sound quite worrying, but it does sound like she did a really good job of coping with it and she seems happy so that is reassuring. The writing has lots of personality and a bit of humour and it very good and very interesting. I wonder if it will be like that for me when I grow up.

Peter Dowse is the director. The lady has a really nice set with a nice chair and I like how at the start, when she was talking about awkward things, she stood next to the chair in an awkward way. She only sat down when she started to feel more relaxed and I thought that worked ever so well. Cathy Janson-Ridings is the performer and she is really good. She gives her character a great personality and she is very warm. She does seem like a person who takes things seriously, even when she is talking in a light sort of way. I really enjoyed the monologue, even though some parts were sad.

I enjoyed these four monologues very much and I like the way they were all about females and that each female was a little bit older than the last female. The four characters are very different and they’re obviously not the same person, but there is still a growing-up theme which is really clever.

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