The We PlaysCultureTheatre
For the next few weeks, The Hope Theatre will be playing host to Andrew Maddock’s The We Plays, two stories told through monologues in two acts.
The first is Cyprus Sunsets, in which a man (John Seaward) returns to Cyprus, a place soaked in youthful nostalgia, with the simple desire to see just one perfect sunset. In the second half we have Irn Pru, where we are taken to Glasgow to meet a young woman (Jennifer O’Neill), who is desperately trying to secure a job, guided by the wisdom of Michelle Mone (the Glaswegian lingerie entrepreneur) and battling against a world which does not make it easy for young working class women. Oh, and she’s wearing a Viking helmet.
Although their stories are unrelated, over the course of their monologues, they slowly reveal themselves to be more than what they seem, sitting on troubled, turbulent backstories. The show must be commended for attempting to tackle some very hefty subjects – suicide, rape and trauma – and for trying to present them in characters who, at the outset, appear perfectly normal, doing so in rhyming verse – at least in the first act.
However, in trying to do so much and tackling such big ideas in so little time, The We Plays can at times lean on the superficial side. The darker themes are tempered by the humour in Maddock’s script, and the actors carry the jokes well, but all too often this humour relies on wearied stereotypes of the working class, particularly in Cyprus Sunsets. This renders any “lessons learnt” by the end somewhat clichéd and, very unfortunately, leaves the more serious themes feeling rushed and underdeveloped. Despite this, Seaward and O’Neill give good performances, which are well-timed with the simple but effective stage lighting that adds some slickness to the performance, especially during the first act’s sunset scenes.
The We Plays has its funny moments and an ultimately uplifting message about the human capacity to be kind and brave. The issue is it bites off a little more than it can chew, giving off the air of a poor man’s Irvine Welsh novel. The elements are in place for two interesting and engaging monologues, but this production doesn’t quite manage to convincingly bring them all together.
The We Plays is at The Hope Theatre from 27th September until 15th October 2016, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for The We Plays here: