I tore pretty hard into Andrew Maddock after his disappointing Data at Wimbledon Studios. It was clear Maddock had potential but the unsatisfying and unclear ending meant I was reluctant to give this playwright my time again. Maddock contacted me and was so gracious that I was looking forward to giving him another chance.
His double bill of Cyprus Sunsets and Irn Pru make up his follow up to The Me Plays and build on Maddock’s strengths as a writer; characters, the theme of loss and monologue pieces. The pieces are very poetic and the rhyming couplets reminded me of Father Comes Home from the Wars, but I felt in a monologue it was more effective and more rhythmic
Cyprus Sunsets is the story of Me (John Seaward) on holiday dealing with the loss of his partner, his child whilst looking at his judgement of a fellow holidaymakers who redeem themselves after a tragedy. Seaward is an engaging, energetic performer even in the sadder, quieter scenes that are glimpses of frustration and hurt building in his character and Maddock’s gets into the mindset of the mid-twenties millennial and the conclusion is satisfying, something Maddock failed to provide in the past. Phil Croft’s direction is very similar to Data, lots of load club scenes and whilst I couldn’t really relate to clubbing I can relate to the old before your time sadness of your late twenties that Maddock seems to excel at.
Maddock’s other plus, and this is a rarity amongst male writers, is his ability to write well for women. Irn Pru was my favourite of the two plays as Jennifer O’Neill’s Glaswegian Pru is hard as nails character with vulnerabilities of unemployment and an unwanted pregnancy. Neill’s performance had me on edge, confident but with a confidence that is trying to hide the sadness to come later and reminded me of a lot of women I know. Directed by Ashley Winters it has an interaction ass he’s guided by the voice of Glaswegian businesswoman Michelle Mone, which for me improved on the isolation of Cyprus Sunsets. The performance like Seaward’s is energetic but subtle. The crucial difference between The We Plays and Data is that Maddock knows what needs to be unsaid and what needs to be resolved. These are monologues are naturally characters won’t want to share information but characters in an ensemble, such as Data, knowing things the audience doesn’t and never will is alienating, this feels far more like a piece that actually likes its audience.
Andrew Maddock will be pleased to hear he has won me over and I hope The We Plays are seen by a wider audience as even if you cannot relate to the characters and lives you can relate to Maddock’s productions as an engaging writer who has a bright future ahead of him.