Monorogue: Seven Deadly Sins at the Old Red Lion TheatreCultureTheatre
Earlier this year, immersive theatre production Monorogue became a post-Valentines day sexual health clinic, in which the audience played the role of the doctor. In the latest incarnation, Seven Deadly Sins, viewers play the jury in a series of court cases. The result is a hilarious and bizarre experience fluctuating between heavy philosophising and comical respite – just a pinch on the arm to confirm you haven’t actually been called up to an absurdist jury service in a Fellini dream sequence.
At the helm is the unruly Judge Frank Goody (John Jesper). Goody casts an unforgiving eye over proceedings, punctuating each case with boorish postulations and frequent swigs of vodka. Brought before the jury is a stream of defendants, each with their own unique moral crime. Tracksuit-clad Shannon has feigned serious illness, Mel tells of her adulterous correspondence with a homeless man and Edmund recalls his sexual fantasies of gluttony.
The immersive element begins with bovine pantomime cooperation, in that sending the villains down is all in the spirit, however, there is a turning point which causes deeper rumination amongst the audience. The comedic element drains away in a heartfelt plea from breast cancer sufferer Jessica, with her candid descriptions of day-to-day realities. A unanimous declaration of her innocence signifies a shift in audience attitude, from “this is all a bit of fun” to “justice shall prevail and every vote counts”.
Each performance presents complex dilemmas in how we approach virtue, which is what makes the voting system so interesting. It becomes a social experiment in how much we attach or distance ourselves from the individual sob story. One of the most captivating performances is that of Michael Luke Walsh as the crass Danny Stone. His misogynistic commentary of a tabloid newspaper descends into schizophrenic outbursts, forcing the jury to look beyond the surface.
Seven Deadly Sins‘ crowning glory is its ability to switch between the profound and the prosaic. There is a lightness of touch to the writing that makes it all the more authentic. This is encapsulated by the lazy, self-centred and generally awful Desiree, on charge for being a “sloth”. In exaggerated RP she bemoans the endless requirements of her B&B customers, seeking solace in trashy TV as a sedative to reality. Needless to say she is sent down. The power to punish undesirable traits is extremely satisfying. Seven Deadly Sins is as cathartic as it is side-splitting.
Monorogue: Seven Deadly Sins was a one off event at the Old Red Lion Theatre on 23rd May 2016.