Writers: Natasha Brown and Sophie Ellerby
Directors: Lynette Linton and Daniel Bailey
At the beginning of lockdown, many of us were just grateful for any theatre content, and a 3-hour run-time wasn’t going to deter us. Now that we’re trying to get back to some semblance of normality, our patience is wearing a little thin, though our need for content holds strong. Bush Theatre’s Monday Monologues provides. With each monologue running no longer than nine minutes, we can enjoy a quick peek into someone else’s home, their inner thoughts, our attentions easily held.
Perhaps because of the audience’s mood over the past few months, or perhaps because it seems to better suit the genre, most of the lockdown monologues have been fraught and/or mournful. So it’s a nice turn for Natasha Brown’s Contradictions to simply talk about falling in love.
“Everyone keeps telling me I’m in love with you and I’m not, so don’t worry”, she repeats over and again, only to notice that food tastes sweeter, music sounds better, nature appears more wondrous.
Performed by Anjana Vasan, it seems more like a poem than a monologue, and the repetition feels somewhat therapeutic. Though the subject is just plain old love, Brown’s skirting round the subject, combined with something no-nonsense about Vasan’s delivery, stops this from becoming too soppy, and instead feels heartening and hopeful.
Sophie Ellerby’s Anything for Cash feels more like the kind of monologue we’ve become accustomed to of late: dark and dispiriting, with a wink to bring us back from the edge. The protagonist, played by Stefan Adegbola, has a lover in high places. But when he falls on hard times, his lover has only his libido in mind.
It doesn’t end with the end of the relationship, instead Ellerby tries to empower her protagonist, but it feels unconvincing. Better to close on a note of tense despair than reach for a bit of hope where there is none.
Hopefully it won’t be too long until we can sink our teeth in to something lengthier in a proper theatre, but for now these Monday Monologues are ideal to keep a content-hungry audience partially sated, and keep Bush Theatre on the brain.
Available here until August 2021