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52 Souls – Chronic Insanity

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Writers: Various

Directors: Nat Henderson and Joe Strickland

More monologues? 52 of them in Chronic Insanity’s final show in its project to produce 12 new works in as many months. Fortunately, there is a twist to these monologues, and it’s very probable that your experience will be unique. Firstly, you will only be able to see about 11 of them before your time runs out, and secondly, the order in which you view them is down purely to fate.

You need a pack of cards, and you will watch the monologues, all connected to death in some way, in the order that you draw each card from your deck. Every monologue is performed by a different young actor in a single shot and lasts around 3 or 4 minutes. When the monologue ends you are directed to draw another card.

You may hear a ghost story about babies dying in a town where a drawing of a bull’s head  appears on their gravestones or about a big game hunter complaining about the time it’s taken to receive his elephant tusks in the post. Of course, some stories are better than others, and these tend to be the ones that dispense with humour. If you’re lucky you may come across the story of an actor turning up for an audition but who is horrified to discover that her voice will be used for Government announcements come the end of the world. Another one not to be missed is the story of the reverse placebo effect where people died only because they thought they were dying.

Others are a little more obscure such as the one about Kayne West, and the actor’s words are often lost to the wind. Another actor recites their dream of Japan, but it quickly becomes dull like other people’s dreams usually are. A story about an accidental filicide is told using cut-out figures made from a toothpaste packet and is one of the most inventive performances; most of the others are filmed straight to camera in true lockdown style.

Most, if not all, monologues are directed by Chronic Insanity’s Nat Henderson and Joe Strickland, and they deserve full credit for adapting quickly to the move towards digital theatre. You may be disappointed not to see all of the tales in 52 Souls, but the 60-minute structure, with stories being selected at random, does ensure that this show stands out from others that are also based on the monologue form. Even though this is the final show in the series, let’s hope that Chronic Insanity isn’t away for too long.

Runs here until 31 August 2020


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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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