MONOROGUE, Old Red Lion Theatre - Review

So how clued up are you on the 'seven deadly sins'? Even if you could recall greed, sloth, envy, lust, wrath,  gluttony and pride, attributing to them as 'sins' may be considered an archaic concept, as most things are 'bad' if taken to extremes. Adopting the format of a courtroom, The Salon: Collective's Monorogue has various characters 'on trial', though it's left to the audience throughout their monologues to deduce which 'deadly sin' they are alleged to have committed (at least until the very end).

Overseeing the courtroom is the 'unorthodox' Judge Frank Goody (John Jesper) – basically a 'white van man' who has managed to blag his way to the upper echelons of the of the legal system. In between each case that's heard he blatantly seen enjoying a few vices of his own – partaking  of 'white powder', swigging vodka etc.  An amusing character on stage, but would be a nightmare or debarred in real life!

Interestingly, five of the seven accused are female characters and while actions are of course judged, it is the emotional intent behind them that's highlighted. Beginning with Louise Devlin's 'Shannon Shuttleworth', each of the defendants tell their side of the story 'to the court' and it becomes increasingly evident that the answers aren't so clear cut. Many of the monologues were written as well as performed by the actors, and their 'ownership' of the material has allowed them to push the envelope in terms of extremities in a character's behaviour.

It's very tempting to go into detail about these, but if the show runs again (which I hope it does) the less detail you know before hand, the better. As a counterpoint to the monologues of the seven accused, both the judge and the policewoman in court (Rachel Stoneley) get their chance to 'shine' and show how their behaviour contrasts with the defandants. As with the previous examples, what begins with 'a bit of fun' initially becomes a much more serious prospect and their rationale for their personal behaviour becomes grey indeed.

Monorogue is in some ways a very simple idea, but beneath the surface lies a piece of forum theatre that really engages with the audience and genuinely makes the audience think about actual 'crimes' committed versus other bad traits the accused might have. I know I certainly did. Definitely go to see this if it runs again in the near future.

© Michael Davis 2016

Monorogue: The Seven Deadly Sins ran at the Old Red Lion Theatre on 23rd May 2016.

Cast: Louise Devlin, Angela Harvey, Kim Hardy, Helen Rose-Hampton, Laurie Stevens, Michael Luke Walsh, Geraldine Brennan, Rachel Stoneley, John Jesper.


Author's review: