What’s Wrong With Monotony? sees a dishevelled, defeated writer struggling to put pen to paper, an activity I can confirm takes up more than half of every writer’s career.
Choosing to hide under his blanket on the sofa instead of tackling the blank page, the writer is ambushed by his three actor friends who are eagerly expecting a new play to rehearse. They are quickly let down. Realising he hasn’t written a word, they’re determined to get what they came for. A quick bet is placed and now our writer has just five minutes to write a play. What follows is a snappy, tongue in cheek romp through Victorian-era musical melodramas featuring villains, goody-goody heroes, love, laughter and despair. Whether the play bothers to answer its own question – whether plays have to really be about anything? – in amongst the laughs is debatable. But I think that’s the whole point.
Owen Bleach showed great variety in his performance as the writer, at first simmering with creative frustration then bringing out the laughs with his portrayal of the simpering, well-to-do husband. Both Gordon Foggo and Emma Howarth gave good performances as the dastardly villain and lovestruck wife respectively and Sharon Drain, having starred in a one-woman show before, effortlessly took on a host of different characters and musical numbers. Director Margot Jobbins kept up the pace of this energetic comedy with tight direction, and the hour-long performance flew by.
Unlike the show’s protagonist, playwright Tim Coakley did manage to put pen to paper to create and share an amusing mix of yearning, melodramatic poeticism and eye-rolling one-liners between the solid cast of four, whilst painting a funny, stereotypical (but still accurate) portrayal of the ever-suffering writer.
As the first show of the Rialto’s Fringe programme, What’s Wrong With Monotony? gets things off to a good start. The cheeky tip-of-the-hat ‘the old uns are the good uns’ sense of humour might not be for everyone, but those looking for a light hour of easy comedy would do well to catch this show.
Originally posted on Broadway Baby.