The We Plays
Having been entranced by Andrew Maddock’s In/Out (A Feeling), which received an Off-West End award nomination, my hopes were high. This new play is a set of two monologues entitled The We Plays. I wasn’t disappointed. We met two distinctive and memorable characters, watched them in glory and shame, and were drawn into their emotional past.
Our first character bounced with beat-fuelled enthusiasm. He’s a Brit abroad. Strapped to his suitcase, head bursting with the promise of cut-price sun, a lager with an exotic sounding name and the thumping lights on the dance floor. And of course, the sunsets. If only that annoying family with their whining kids would give him a moment’s peace. Mismatched clothes and pasty skin, he epitomises the average holiday-maker. Except, he isn’t quite feeling it today. As we follow him off the long-delayed flight, cracks start to show under his Hawaiian shirt veneer. Perhaps this hedonists holiday is not quite what it appears.
After an emotional climax, it was difficult to see how the second short play could compare. Enter Irn Pru, a swaggering giant of a character who certainly lived up to her predecessor. She sits astride a tartan throne, swigging on the orange stuff and sporting a Viking hat. She’s bewailing the arrival of Waitrose into her precious home town, and the ruin it has brought to the local economy. As she takes us through her day, the soundtrack by Salt n’ Pepa and the inspirational words of Michelle Mone looping in her head, we realise there is something darker than a Guatemalan Latte looming between those privileged aisles.
Particularly enchanting was the lyrical prose. Lilting, musical, the beats and riffs of dialogue tick us through an emotional ride. It also allowed for an extra dimension, with the expected rhymes and wordplay. Having said that, I could have done with a few less ‘wee’ in the second monologue. Matching the pace impressively is John Seaward (Me), pausing and breathing with the rhythm of the language. Admittedly, like the plane, it took a little while to take off, but once we were fully in flight the audience were entranced. Jennifer O’Neill (Pru) commanded the stage from the outset, full of swagger and bravado, which made her past revelations all the more shocking.
It’s impressive to see such complex and difficult problems tackled within such a short space of time, and also with such a deft and humorous touch. The overarching theme her is that, well, life isn’t fair. Be it something you desperately wanted that was taken away, or something forced upon you that you didn’t know you wanted, both characters need to find a way to move forward, and not allow their past to define them.