Ladylogue! is the second show of monologues written and performed by women, (with a mainly female production team,) presented by The Thelmas, as part of this year’s Camden Fringe Festival.
The Thelmas are a company founded in 2014 to make a positive difference to the gender imbalance in UK theatre. They say they are “passionate about seeing more work commissioned that is written by women, of women, for everyone, and our work reflects this”.
Ladylogue! featured six monologues from writers Lucy Foster, Madeline Gould, Mina Maisuria, Maria Yarjah, Sarah Milton, and Serena Haywood. Thematically they talked a lot about loss and feelings of powerlessness or invisibility. The Thelmas didn’t set a theme, and were interested that the links emerged, and see this as a possible reaction to the current political climate, where women have been among those hit hardest. It is a valid theory – a national malaise/unease is often either reflected, or totally ignored, in the art produced at the time. These plays are subtle mirrors. But despite thematic links, the stories all managed to vary immensely in style and tone.
Ghost by Lucy Foster told the story of a sister’s loss, Ladykiller by Madeline Gould introduces us to a psycho-killer just after her kill, in My sons are doctors, a woman is forced to hide in a supermarket toilet, where she reveals her loss, then the irrational thing she’s doing because of it, Family (Mis)Fortunes written and performed by Maria Yarjah, is a very funny piece about the perils of having a family who are internet-savvy, The Night Tella by Sarah Milton is a poetic story about a wild night that leads to tragedy, and Zero by Serena Haywood, takes us into the sci-fi fantasy world of an agoraphobic.
The standout pieces were Madeline Gould’s Ladykiller performed by an alternatively credibly weepy then scarily psychotic Hannah McClean, her performance of this bravado character had the audience in stitches. In fact all the writers managed to vary the tone within their pieces between dark and shade, with a host of LOL moments, and quite a lot of PMSL, and the actors all did a really fine job with the tonal variety. My favourite play, The Night Tella by Sarah Milton, performed by Joana Nastari, was in verse, inspired by the Hilaire Belloc poem, Tarantella. There is something satisfying, perhaps reminding you of childhood, about listening to high octane structured rhyming, and I would like to see how this could be sustained over a longer piece. In a world where a lot of theatre sounds and acts like Eastenders or Made in Chelsea, this play really stood out.
Another link was technology – and perhaps the isolation that has come with it. It’s possible to be alone with 3,000 friends online. A young woman in Family (Mis)Fortunes finds her new boyfriend stalked around Twitter and Facebook by her father, and in Zero, social media actually ends up saving a life.
Unlike a lot of monologues, what was so standout about these six is that they were complete stories with a beginning, middle and end, even if not in that order, and even if the end in so many of them was really only another beginning – particularly in the last play Zero by Serena Haywood. So many monologues only capture a mood, rather than trying to tell a story, but these were fine examples of good storytelling. All in all, a very entertaining show, with fine writing and performances – catch it while you can!
Ladylogue! is on at The Tristan Bates Theatre.
Tue 18 – Sat 22 Aug 2015, 6.00pm