Review: monolog 3

3 star rating
Disparate topics fall under the dramatic microscope in Chickenshed's latest offering of inventive, sometimes moving monologues that prove the art form is still alive and kicking.
monolog 3 at Chickenshed Theatre

Image: Chickenshed Theatre



Closes here: Saturday 22 February 2020

Author:

The Conundrum by Alex Murtinheira

Dropping Pennies  by Sophie White

Pickled Limes by Cathy Jansen-Ridings

On the Out by Peter Hastings

Connections by Linda Foley

Navigating the Twilight by Sophie Sparham

Why Can't You See Me by Grace Wolstenholme

I Am a Shield by Sebastian Ross

A:live B:reaved by Peter Dowse & Alex Bremer


Director:

The Conundrum - Anthony Nyagah

Dropping Pennies - Kyra Ancona-Francis

Pickled Limes - Beth Fox

On the Out - Paul Harris

Connections - Sarah Connolly

Navigating the Twilight - Peter Dowse

Why Can't You See Me - Sarah Jones

I Am a Shield - Ashley Driver & Sebastian Ross

A:live B:reaved - Pete Dowse, Loren Jacobs, Tiia Makinen, Jonny Morton


Cast:

The Conundrum - Finn Walters

Dropping Pennies - Marla Wheeler

Pickled Limes - Julie Wood

On the Out - Olivier LeClair

Connections - Chloe Stevenson

Navigating the Twilight - Ingrid Cannon

Why Can't You See Me - Grace Wolstenholme

I Am a Shield - Sabina Bisset

A:live B:reaved - Tom Harvey


Synopsis


Chickenshed's season of theatrical monologues returns to our Studio Theatre.


Drawn from a diverse range of people and voices, expect the unexpected as the venue again presents a uniquely varied programme, demonstrating the versatility of this most simple and yet versatile theatrical form.


The monologues are presented in two groups at different performances.


GROUP ONE:

The Conundrum by Alex Murtinheira

Dropping Pennies by Sophie White

Pickled Limes by Cathy Jansen-Ridings

On The Out by Peter Hastings


GROUP TWO:

Connections by Linda Foley

Navigating the Twilight by Sophie Sparham

Why Can't You See Me by Grace Wolstenholme

I Am a Shield by Sebastian Ross

A:live B:reaved by Peter Dowse & Alex Bremer


Performance dates:


11 Feb, 7.30pm Group One & Group Two

12 Feb, 7.30pm Group Two

13 Feb, 7.30pm Group One

14 Feb, 7.30pm Group Two 

15 Feb, 7.30pm Group One

18 Feb, 7.30pm Group One

19 Feb, 7.30pm Group Two

20 Feb, 7.30pm Group One

21 Feb, 7.30pm Group Two


Background


Reviews from monolog 2, 2019:


'Chickenshed's new set of seven monologues together make a varied, interesting and impressively diverse evening of theatre.' 3*** Sardines Magazine


'A range of ages, genders, ethnicities and themes are represented, creating a multicultural melting pot of voices that exhibits the theatre's powerful ethos of inclusivity.' 3*** The Spy in the Stalls


'seven fresh pieces from seven fresh writers' 3*** Everything Theatre


'a varied, thought-provoking and entertaining selection covering a broad range of themes, including pregnancy, prison life, mental health, race and identity, and political protest.' Theatre Things


'The seven monologues are a thoughtful and lively engagement with the world.' British Theatre Guide


And ActDrop reviewed the first in the monolog series in February 2018 - you can read Peter Brown's **** review here.


ActDrop reviews


Peter Brown

Performance date: Tuesday 11 February 2020
Review star rating image

Chickenshed's work is often defined by hugely ambitious shows involving teams of actors, numbering in the hundreds.


Those impressive shows are almost unique in the world of theatre, requiring monumental feats of organisation that sometimes defy belief in terms of the complexity they involve.


But there's a more intimate side to the company's theatrical efforts which has resulted over the past few years in a series of productions focusing on the monologue and here getting a third iteration.


monolog 3 provides a different perspective on Chickenshed's dedication to "serious drama and the inclusive nature of [its] methods", as its artistic director, Lou Stein puts it.


This production is presented in the intimate atmosphere of the venue's well-appointed and ample studio theatre, allowing the audience close proximity to the actors which is an almost essential requirement of experiencing the full power of the genre.


Nine monologues form this year's production, presented in two groups at alternate performances - sadly, that means you won't get to see all the works in one sitting.


But the press pack were treated to a special event where all nine monologues got an airing, amounting to a three hour running time.


That puts the average duration for each monologue at around the 20 minute mark - ample for the writers to deliver their varied and always interesting messages without the outcomes feeling in any way sparse.


The writers, actors and directors who form the basic creative teams for each monologue come from all segments of Chickenshed's community - professional staff, young people and its adult theatre too.


From that information you can easily (and correctly) discern that the topics on offer are disparate and wide-ranging, covering many relevant and resonant facets of human experience and emotions.


And the techniques employed in delivering each piece also vary from the deceptively economical to more complex constructions where acting is sometimes matched with projections and music to embellish the material.


There's neither time nor space here to allow for a detailed or even vaguely rigorous examination of each of these monologues.


Overall, though, there's diversity aplenty ranging from Olivier LeClair's discharged prisoner waiting for a lift which never turns up, to Sabina Bisset's self-proclaimed comic genius who has to reconsider her attitude and social approach when faced with rejection.


The programme began with Alex Murtinheira's The Conundrum, with Finn Walters ably describing an eminent historian obsessed with deciphering ancient manuscripts who additionally has to cope with his wife's indelicate remarks about his "tomes".


And the final punctuation of the evening came in the form of Pete Dowse and Alex Bremer's inventively poignant, complex and almost poetic description of unbearable grief, in a well-considered and powerfully intense performance by Tom Harvey.


Cathy Jansen-Ridings' Pickled Limes finds humorous Marion swilling-down copious quantities of red wine as she berates her gardening-loving husband - that is, till he's no longer around.


And in Why Can't You See Me?, Grace Wolstenholme gives us a humorous and eye-opening glimpse into the life of a teenager with cerebral palsy, showing us her mischievous sense of humour, love of concerts and clubbing, and leaving us with a final line that is certainly the funniest of the entire programme and could well be the best I've ever heard.


What monolog 3 proves - if any further evidence is needed - is that the monologue as an art form is still alive and powerfully kicking just as hard as ever.


And that's thanks to the bravery and talent of all the performers here, supported by the inventive skill of their directors and the work of some very thoughtful writers.


That doesn't mean that all the pieces work perfectly - some might be lifted with a touch of pruning and additional polishing, especially in the light of performance experience and audience reaction - that is how dramatic work develops and improves.


But these are new voices whose intriguing thoughts on a multitude of important and highly relevant issues certainly deserve to be heard and are well-worth experiencing for yourself.



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