Venue: The Lowry
Date Reviewed: 11th October, 2008
Three actors, a simple set and fifty five minutes; that’s all that Manchester-based theatre company Monkeywood need to draw you in and deliver a story packed with humour and pathos.
Now in their fifth year of existence, Monkeywood are a small theatre company rapidly gaining a reputation for well crafted plays that offer a real insight into the human condition and A Song for the Lovers is no exception.
The play opens with the character of Jenna (Francesca Waite) alone on the stage, tending the empty bar of a Manchester Conservative Club. Her sister, Catie (Sarah McDonald Hughes), arrives having finally left her abusive boyfriend, and with the entrance of Davy (Martin Gibbons), a lonely child-like man, the story really takes off. What follows is a moving story of love and friendship and the trials of living in twenty-first century Britain.
All three actors are genuine and believable and deliver the naturalistic script with real conviction. Gibbons is utterly convincing as a man who has spent his life in and out of the care system, and special mention should be made of McDonald Hughes who not only plays Catie with passion and sparkle, but is also the writer of this brilliant play.
Waite, as Jenna, forms the centre of the play, holding it together and grounding the volatility of the other characters. This is a highly charged and engaging production which crams more story into its short running time than many other much longer plays.
The simple set works well, and Jo Fisher’s direction makes clever use of contrasting action on opposite sides of the stage to demonstrate the forming and re-forming of alliances between the three characters.
The only problem with this production is that it is perhaps too short. However, it is better to have a short play of such high quality than a longer one which could lose the energy and power of what is a very professional performance.
Monkeywood are described as an ‘emerging’ theatre company. If A Song for the Lovers is anything to go by, I would say that they have now arrived and I can only hope that they are here to stay.
This riveting play is only on until Saturday 11th October, so catch it while you can.