Monday 06th December

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The Park Theatre: A Bad Case of the Mondays

| Comedy, Hidden London, Theatre | 09/01/2014

Monday
Rating:

Seven short plays on Monday nights: January 13, 20, 27

The Park Theatre, Finsbury Park (Finsbury Park Tube)

The Morris Space upstairs at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park was pleasingly full for the opening night of the first of four Mondays. Two pop-songs on loop alternated between ‘Manic Monday’ and ‘Between Sunday and Monday’ – no Boomtown Rats. The programme by Paradigm Theatre was set very attractively with seven short themed works from a number of gifted writers.

Work Makes You Free

Gemma Rook started straight in as the house lights, unusually, went up. Partnered with Antonia Reid, these two strong actors were very at ease in the intimate if well-lit space. Whilst the diatribe switched back and forth they each handled the listening and stillness well; stagecraft not to be underestimated. The audience loved it, plenty of laughs relative to shared experience of workaday London – but what does that say when both girls proved a bit manic?

Lunch Break

They were followed by a male trio (Adam Langstaff, Matt Houlihan, Anthony Joblin) in unnamed roles, one mute until close. The action centred on the frankly surreal premise that these ‘Clerks’-like workers lunched on pet food. Short and not so sweet but, again, very well done (the play that is, not the pet food – uncovered as one dish best served cold).

Toast or Cereal

Next up was a cleverly-scripted breakfast debacle; a funny and childish strop; the man (Michael Shon) more deserving of any clichéd misogynism detaching itself from the woman (Kim Burnett). Great performances and great writing, it will chime endless series of chords with anyone who’s ever been in love (with toast or cereal or another human being). I’m still snickering at the afterimage of this despairing twosome.

A Valued Employee

And then some. Delicious and delirious overacting by Bethan Hanks as an atrociously misguided young woman. Certainly unhinged, convinced she can use sex to resolve any conflict, but failing to dent her mounting pile of insurmountable issues. An assuredly gravitatious Cameron Robertson made for delightful contrast, stolid enough to cause rise to anyone’s underlying psychosis.

Thank Crunchie It’s Not Friday

Following a short break the strains of – of course – ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’ echoed in prelude to more layers of Surrealism. What would you do if your new job was an endlessly reconfigured Groundhog Day? Sian Gordon’s slow dawn created quite a picture. A super piece of Imaginative/Post-Absurdist writing made almost believable, no small praise to fellow ‘employee’ Paul Thomas and über-boss Jessica Barker Wren. Purgatory on earth? It’s in the Yellow Pages.

The Lost Case of the Mondays

Another pop-song ‘Being a Dickhead’s Cool’ set the scene for a right pair of… talented thespians (the Roberts Welling and Bradley). It’s rather ‘The Case of the Lost Case’ or the search for the meaning within. An entertaining series of skits benefitted from a dastardly dash of double-crossing. And Saskia Roddick suited her part well, a perfect fit with the smartly tailored and witty conclusion.

The Lionel Blair Sex Years

Finally: Geek-o-rama. One actor garbed in a muscle-bound Superman suit (an efficacious Lee Lytle), the other in ‘Sci-Fi Chic’ (Katherine Rodden, lending elegance to an orange wig and black mesh blouse). It’s the epicentre of an at-crisis relationship – and the black-hole of an anti-crisis. “Why don’t you just pretend that you know what you’re doing? Like other people do?” Adages like virgin threads wove into some of the best writing of the evening. Touching, and touchingly humorous. The want of love brings us back to earth with the gentlest of bumps.

It’s always a joy to discover original and fresh comedy writing. This is an excellent evening’s entertainment, a vitamin-shot for the Monday Blues. So grab it while you can.

Credits

Work Makes You Free Writer: Michael Ross / Director: Cat Robey

Lunch Break Writer: B Spencer Evoy / Director: Lucy Wray

Toast or Cereal Writer: Caro Dixey / Director: Gavin Dent

A Valued Employee Writer: Sarah Pitard / Director: Theo Ancient

Thank Crunchie It’s Not Friday Writer: Giles Morris / Director: Tutku Barbaros

The Lost Case of the Mondays Writer: Katherine Rodden / Director: Eyal Israel

The Lionel Blair Sex Years Writer: Serena Haywood / Director: Liz McMullen

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