If life gives you lemons, make monologues

The Me Plays – The Old Red Lion Theatre, until 20 September 2014 (Tickets)

Filed by our roving reviewer, Emily Howe

Written and performed by Andrew Maddock, The Me Plays are a couple of self-penned, semi-autobiographical monologues, currently showing at The Old Red Lion. The space is perfect for the piece; intimate yet with a buzz to it, and it certainly helps that this little theatre is sold-out for tonight’s show.

Maddock is bursting with energy and self-deprecating humour. Both of his monologues are directly addressed to the audience in a brave performance where (although I don’t know with any surety how much of the content wasAndrew Maddock, photo by Hannah Ellis Photography true or how much fiction) it feels like he is opening his life up for us to see.

The first of the two pieces, “Junkie”, describes Me’s modern life in the digital-age, and seems to be aimed more towards the men in the audience. Covering Tinder, internet-porn, facebook and pill-popping, its message is that there is a declining need in us to make real connections with the rest of humanity, as we can so easily find what we need online. Me is comforted by the safe, virtual atmosphere of the internet which allows him to switch off when he gets bored, and where there is no chance of rejection and pain.

In the second play of the evening, “Hi Life, I Win”, Me is in hospital and is nostalgically re-living his formative years for us; reminiscing about his school-life, discovering weed for the first-time, being shipped off to a Catholic camp, and the death of his beloved grandad, amongst other very personal moments. Interspersed with his present-day situation in hospital, this is a much more personal journey than “Junkie”, but the experiences that Maddox shares with us, although engaging, were too unique to the writer for me to be able to wholly relate to.

The direction in the first play was clear and consistent; nice use was made of the interesting set and lighting, and the audience believed in the different scenes that were played out in various locations of the set. The second play seemed less slick and was perhaps too static for a stage performance. Although some of the emotional instances were a bit clunky and overly sign-posted, there were also some lovely, subtly-nuanced melancholic moments, particularly during the end of the first play.

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