Sunday, 14 September 2014

Theatre review: The Me Plays

The first half of September has been packed with monologues and here's two more - in verse - at the Old Red Lion courtesy of writer-performer Andrew Maddock and director Ryan Bradley. The Me Plays open with Junkie, in which Maddock's "Me" character prepares for a first date with a girl he met on Tinder. Nervous about his flabby body putting her off, he buys a new red jumper he hopes she'll like, but is quickly as unsure about that as he is about everything else. As he reminisces about his childhood in the mid-'90s, he reflects on the difficulty of getting hold of pornography in those days, and the ease of access "in this digital age," a refrain he keeps coming back to. It turns out this is what he's talking about when he calls himself a junkie, and his easy reliance on watching other people have sex may be getting in the way of him doing it for real, as well as causing his previous relationship to end. Then again, the cause and effect between these three things in his life may be more complicated.

After the interval there's Hi Life, I Win, with more nostalgia to his schooldays, but this time to the Catholic school he went to, and the crisis of faith when they had no satisfactory answers for his grandfather's death.

These thoughts comes back as he's going for a biopsy whose results the doctors are pessimistic about, so both monologues are suffused with a sense of loss. Maddock is a bright performer though, so things never become maudlin, and his delivery is casual enough that the rhyme used throughout both plays doesn't feel forced or tiresome. It rather tells my age that the time I was at University is now fair game for other people's childhood nostalgia, but that aside these gentle and heartfelt monologues with a sprinkling of humour throughout are worth catching.

The Me Plays by Andrew Maddock is booking until the 20th of September at the Old Red Lion Theatre.

Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes including interval.

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