It has been years since I’ve been to the theatre! This may feel like an exaggeration, but it honestly feels like it. My last review was March. I’m so ashamed. At a friend’s book launch, I was invited to come to The Old Red Lion Theatre for a pair of monologues and a writer’s response evening. But more on that bit later. The Old Red Lion Theatre is in a pub, a space after my own heart. Their mission? “To nurture and present the very best new and emerging theatrical talent – Kathy Burke, Abi Morgan and Katie Mitchell to name but a few.” I’m an emerging theatrical person, not sure about the best or talent bit but I wanted to get in on the action.
The evening boosted a double bill of monologues, written and performed by Andrew Maddock and directed by Ryan Bradley. The first is “Junkie”, a tale of dating in the digital age. Not only does this pose its own problems, but our protagonist is an addict, a junkie, his eyes are rarely seen away a computer screen. This may seem alien, but aren’t we all a little obsessed. Does our heart not skip a beat if we can’t find our phone? We are all junkies. Maddock tells this story with warmth and humour. It’s a pleasure to watch but mustn’t lose sight of what you’re looking at. It’s a mirror, it is us now.
The second might have been slightly less relatable for me, it’s about a catholic boy enjoying rap and recreational drugs. But “Hi Life, I Win” has a soft side too, it’s just a boy wanting to be creative and please his mother. Every teenager is different but our struggles are the same. With both monologues, the writing and direction came together beautifully, but it was this monologue that made me cry.
Right, the writer’s response bit! So my mission if I chose to accept it (spoiler: I did) was to write a response to the two gorgeous monologues I saw that evening. Naturally, there were rules: no longer than 15 minute in length, no more than 5 characters and to be sent no later than 5pm Saturday 7th September! This gave me 92 hours to write a play! 5,520 minutes to write a play! 331,200 seconds to write a play! And I had to work in between! And see Medea!
The result was what I estimate to be a 10 minute monologue titled How Not to be An Essex Girl. I responded to the reference that the girl in the back of a taxi in a porn clip was from Essex. This may seem like a tiny insignificant moment but it just infuriated me. The insinuation being that this girl is from Essex therefore she must have been ‘up for it’ and willing to give that blow job in the back of a taxi because that’s what girls from Essex do. NO! I’m an Essex girl! We are not all like that! You’re starting to understand how I could easily write a ten minute rant about that one moment and make a monologue out of it.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the response night despite its 100% approval rating from all my Essex girl friends that have never given a blowjob in the back of a taxi. Actually, I wouldn’t put it past one of them but don’t tarnish us all with the same brush! Feedback is heading my way which is just as useful but what I gained most from this experience is an understanding of my own ability. I typed a 2,000 word script in 92 hours. Not even that, you take out sleep and work you’re looking at only 60 hours really. That’s 3,600 minutes. That’s 216,000 seconds. I must stop thinking I don’t have time to write when clearly I do, just give me rage and a deadline.