Monolog, Chickenshed Theatre

Monolog presents several different monologues written by well-known and new writers, showcasing monologues in a variety of formats.

As a fan of Alan Bennett I loved Belinda McGuirk’s performance as the tragi-comic Lesley in Alan Bennett’s “Her Big Chance.” Hearing the references to the 1970s’ soap Crossroads, this was clearly written decades before the revelations of the allegations of sexual harassment and assault by Harvey Weinstein and the ensuing #MeToo campaign. However it could have been written today, as it very humorously portrays the exploitation of a young female jobbing actor at the hands of dubious male producers/ directors in the acting industry. McGuirk’s Lesley is so naïve that I suspected that she was also self-delusional and not just extremely trusting. McGuirk allows us to see that Lesley is so desperate for a shot at a major acting role, that the producers/ directors know what buttons to push to manipulate her into nudity, soft porn and sex with them, by persuading her that she needs to strip to get into character. Lesley wants a big role so much that it seems she talks herself into believing the hype. So it is almost as if Lesley has colluded in her own exploitation. It shows how much some bit part actresses were, are? prepared to do to try and get their big break. It also demonstrates what sleazy directors/ producers are prepared to do to get what they want- nudity and/ or sex. McGuirk’s excellently nuanced acting was so well balanced that by the end of the 30 minutes, although I knew how manipulated Lesley was, I also believed there was significant self-delusion at work. McGuirk portrayed this controversial issue brilliantly and I look forward to watching her in other equally challenging roles as I am confident she will continue to put in excellent performances.

“This is Me,” written by Diane Samuels, is completely different to “Her Big Chance,” it is the author’s unpublished autobiography acted alternately by Belinda McGuirk and Lucy-Mae Beacock. Lucy-Mae Beacock as a young Diane Samuels is a wonderful young talent who I believe will go very far. I liked the format, where pieces of cloth with different handwritten phrases were handed to the audience who were invited to read them out randomly. Beacock as Diane would select a phrase which would trigger an anecdote from her life. So it was like a series of sketches which were amusing, witty and poignant. Beacock was very impressive as she obviously had to remember so many different stories, which she presented to us as if they were memories from her childhood, she was extremely convincing. I look forward to seeing more from her and I hope Diane Samuels publishes her autobiography.

The second half of Monolog has 2 more monologues which are brand new from new writers, so expect the unexpected. The 2 new pieces I saw were “Last Piece of the Sun”about the consequences of a one night stand, which was well acted and quite sad, scattered with a lot of humour. The final work was “I Found Love in a Bin” which was quirky, unsettling and tragic.

Monolog is at Chickenshed Theatre from 6 February to 3 March 2018 visit http://www.chickenshed.org.uk

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