Category Archives: Theatre

Machinal

I see the main purpose of this blog as a way of telling you things I have seen that I have enjoyed, without giving too much away, so you may enjoy it yourself. I am a big fan of the Almeida Theatre these days. Rarely do they do duff stuff.

I meant to write about this weeks ago, but since it is pretty sold out it hasn’t made much difference I expect.

Their latest production is Machinal, and old (1928) play about the frustrations of being female.

As ever, the acting is excellent, with no weak spots. The set is super, and it zips along in 10 parts for barely 90 minutes.

It’s all very stylised, and oddly Trumpian.

Maybe it will transfer. Maybe you can get day seats.

Monogamy

I know there are people who love Ayckbourn and his type of play, whatever that may be, and other writers who do similar things. At the Park Theatre in London is another of that kind, Monogamy by Torben Betts.

It’s another dysfunctional family/kitchen drama, where a family get together and all the secrets that have hard, maybe for years, all come out together. I know, like real life, ok?

It is supposedly set in Highgate, just up the road, and seems to be about a chef, loosely modeled on Delia Smith, a religious, drink loving woman who can chop carrots like there’s no tomorrow.

There is the son who comes home and reveals he is gay (that’s not a spoiler. As most things in this play, it is signaled from the very beginning). The chef lady has been having an affair with the handyman, and his wife comes, steals a large knife which was discussed at length as being super sharp and then is left in the centre of the stage so we can see for sure when she takes it. So, you know someone is going to get it.

The husband comes home after playing golf. He constantly talks about another player who has just had a heart attack on on the course (so you know what fate awaits him)

Supposedly shocking pictures of Mrs Chef falling from a taxi while tipsy are being posted in a newspaper. No big scandal, you would think, but it is here. Anyway, by the second half of the play, the character has almost no more part in the play – she sits on the floor and looks drunk.

There’s lots of stuff about religion. Am not sure why.

Parts are funny. Well, you laugh, because it’s a relief to be able to. There’s a bit of swearing, to no purpose, and drug taking.

To me it was a confused mess. The long speeches about the state of the country were contrived and meaningless, some of the acting was poor (this has been on tour for months, so how can actors still fluff their lines and get the names of other characters wrong?), the second half is very shouty and, even with two 55 minute halves, it drags. Surely one 90 minute play would have been more than enough (my companion remarked that the theatre was probably desperate to sell you a cold drink on a hot day).