Review: The We Plays
Image: Hope Theatre
Ashley Winter - Irn Pru
Me - Cyprus Sunsets - John Seaward
Pru - Irn Pru - Jennifer O’Neill
The blistering heat of the island of Cyprus is the backdrop into the psyche of a man retreating to the island after a bitter breakup.
Package holiday woes, screaming children, Keo Beer & Madonna all factor into his challenge to witness just one perfect sunset, before we discover all is not what it seems.
With another local business closed because of a new Waitrose in nearby Bearsden, Drumchapel native Pru desperately needs a job, she also needs tae stop swearing.
And why is she wearing a viking helmet?
Irn Pru is a love letter to the city of Glasgow as our heroine follows the mantra of Michelle Mone, plays us some Salt-N-Pepa and battles the elements, herself and the prejudice of other people in order to come out on top.
Following the critical success of IN/OUT (A Feeling) including an Off-West End Award nomination for 2016’s best new play, writer Andrew Maddock returns to the Hope Theatre with a double bill of monologues and a further stand-alone instalment of the, also Off-West End Award nominated, The Me Plays.
Andrew Maddock's compelling writing is something rather different to the usual kind of offering in the monologues' department.
It takes a little time for the penny to drop as to what one is hearing.
In fact, it's rhyme.
Of course, rhyming dialogue is hardly new, Shakespeare's plays are teaming with it.
But it's not very common to hear modern plays use this technique.
It's not maintained throughout here, but it is an important feature.
The other noticeable element in Mr Maddock's work is repetition.
For example, in Irn Pru, Pru states her full (incredibly long) name several times over as an affirmation of her uniqueness, and she repeats a statement about her connection with Glasgow and Scotland - her home.
And we find repetition from 'Me', "wondering and pondering" his way through Cyprus Sunsets.
I'm not certain if these two plays just seemed a good fit as a double bill sometime after they had both been written, or whether they were deliberately conceived as a double-bill.
My best guess is that they were written as a pair, largely because they have so much in common - and the more one considers the multiple connections between the two plays the more unlikely it seems that they were spawned as independent entities - even if each could easily stand on its own.
Though they describe two very different characters, situations and events, there are numerous, complex links between the two, and it's hard not to see intentional contrasts between the main characters.
For example, we find a strong, determined female character set alongside a male character who is largely failing in his struggle to survive.
Without giving too much away about the plots, both pieces are concerned with how the characters cope with crises in their lives - crises which, in part, are related to having children.
The plays focus on 'ordinary' people - the kind you're likely to meet on a package holiday, or in your local cafe or supermarket.
In Mr Maddock's plays, though, we discover something of the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Taking on the role of 'Me' in Cyprus sunsets, John Seaward is a man desperate to recapture a memory - sunset in Cyprus - because a crisis in his life has dragged him down to the depths of despair.
Mr Seaward describes a man irritated by other humans, but ultimately finds that he is dependent on them for his very survival.
Jennifer O'Neill's Pru gets her inner strength from the motivational writings of Michelle Mone, whose words continually ring loud in Pru's inner ear, guiding her through the incredibly tough times she too is facing.
John Seaward and Jennifer O'Neill both turn-in robust, engaging and moving performances, and there's well-considered, sensitive direction from Phil Croft (Cyprus Sunsets) and Ashley Winter (Irn Pru).
There's inventive use of a suitcase in Cyprus Sunsets, and a rich soundscape throughout, together with neat lighting from Tom Turner.
Complex and at times rather sad, this double-bill nonetheless entertains and offers hope while asking us to consider our own reactions to the most challenging situations life can throw at us.
Most definitely worth a visit.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for Hope Theatre
Our show listing for The We Plays
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