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monolog 3 (Susan Elkin reviews)

monolog 3
The Conundrum by Alex Murtinheira, Dropping Pennies by Sophie White, Pickled Limes by Cathy Jansen-Ridings, On The Out by Peter Hastings
performance date: 18 Feb 2020
venue: Chickenshed Theatre, Chase Side, Southgate, London N14 4PE


I was deeply moved by Cathy Jansen-Ridings’s Pickled Limes. In a beautifully written monologue which examines a long term relationship, Marion (Julie Wood) is angry with the absent Patrick. His empty chair turns out to be more telling than we’re led to think at first and her constant slurping of red wine tells its own story. Wood gets all the right irritation, anger, sadness, regret and guilt – most of which I can identify with personally – in a very finely nuanced performance. She is also, in places, very funny.

Pickled Limes is one of the four varied monologues which make up Group One of Chickenshed’s 2020 Monologue programme which it entitled Monolog 3 because this is the third year. There is another parallel show featuring four different monologues.

We also hear Peter Hastings’s On the Out in which Olivier LeClair presents a volatile, troubled, vulnerable man just released from prison and waiting for his lift. The Condundrum by Alex Murtinheira gives us an eminent historian (Finn Walters) – geeky and gawky – agitatedly trying to solve a major linguistic mystery

Maria Wheeler is very good indeed in Dropping Pennies by Sophie White. There has been an incident of domestic violence and she’s talking to the police. But is she the victim or the perpetrator? Wheeler has a very naturalistic trick of hesitating before her character tries, quite articulately, to explain her point of view, tapping her long black false nails on the table for emphasis. It’s convincing acting.

As Lou Stein, Chickenshed’s artistic director, notes in the Monolog 3 programme, the monologue “has now matured into a fully-fledged dramatic genre” presented in theatres everywhere. It is no longer something actors do only when the phone doesn’t ring or just something for drama school showcases. It is therefore pleasing to see monologues being commissioned, performed and celebrated in this way.

First published by Sardines:

Author information
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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