A gender-balanced evening of insightful monologues, The We Plays show once again that whether they are male or female, writer Andrew Maddock has a knack for creating well-rounded believable characters, whose circumstances are relatable yet unpredictable.
The first half of the evening, (Cyprus Sunsets – directed by Phil Croft) sees John Seaward's character travelling to the famous Mediterranean island for a break. Unlike many holidaymakers in their late-teens and 20s, he's not in the first bloom of youth. However, recent events have led to the end of a long-term relationship, so now seems the perfect time to visit the playground of his younger, care-free days, with sunsets and euphoric dance music on the agenda.
The presence of an ill-behaved British family abroad conjures for the audience a myriad of horror stories they may have experienced. For Seaward's character, they are a dark inversion of the family he could have had, had things been different and a reminder that even in paradise there's no escape from what troubles the mind...
Directed by Ashley Winter, Irn Pru focuses on a Scottish young woman who finds inspiration from the words of entrepreneur Michelle Mone. Played by Jennifer O'Neill, Pru is one of many who are affected by the arrival of a well-known store on their doorsteps. But instead of being despondent, she decides to take a job opportunity 'by the horns' (so to speak) and show some initiative and gumption.
Tonally, Irn Pru has more moments of levity than the first half of the evening, but a similar anger drives her as it does 'Me' (Seaward's character) – annoyance at the way things are versus how they could be. Except of course there's more to Pru's anger than meets the eye and in her own way, Pru's dealing with the consequences of a someone she knew from the past.
Maddock has once again shown his ease at writing interesting roles for women and men, especially those on the periphery of society for whatever reason. If there's one thread that runs throughout his work, it's that everyone has an inalienable right to be heard and to find happiness. Whether the individual in questions has the wherewithal to accomplish this is another matter entirely...
© Michael Davis 2016
The We Plays run at the Hope Theatre, London until 15th October 2016.