Monorogue: Elf Off at the Old Red Lion TheatreCultureTheatre
Sports Direct then BHS, the latest capitalist malpractice has been exposed: its Santa Claus’s toy empire. In the North Pole (or Old Red Lion Theatre), a whole race of zero-hour contract elves have bleeding fingers for the sake of Christmas. Due to rapid population growth, they are unable to satiate the demand and must hire in a “lazy” human. The audience played the elven electorate, voting for one of the seven actors, who each had to conduct their monologue.
As the theatregoers entered, they were handed a candy cane to vote with and given an elf name like Cranberry Peppersnaps. These interactive touches made the show engaging form the start and when one of Mr Claus’s helpers ushered us into the fringe theatre, its 60-seat capacity ensured everyone an intimate view.
The set design was in keeping with popular mythology about Santa’s workshop: the stage laden with brightly wrapped presents, the walls festooned in fairy lights and, at the front, a single stool. This is where the seven interviewees were questioned by the head elf (Laurie Stevens).
The human characters were reflective of cliched figures in society; their observations cut through the comedy and into social commentary. Take Hayley Barker (Angela Harvey), who joked that her kids had “ended up in care this year”. Through satire, Harvey used her monologue to discuss JobSeekers and consumerism: “Don’t you judge me,” she said to the audience. There were similarly poignant jibes about the head elf being more qualified than Santa. “This wouldn’t be the first time a man came into power over a woman, despite her having more experience,” said Rachel Stoneley. The spectators laughed nervously at Mr Clause in a garish blonde toupée.
One notable scene involved Laurie Stevens leaving the stage to look for a candidate. This change of pace created tension in the crowd, who were rewarded for their patience by Basildon’s Jade Smith’s (Rachel Stoneley) hilarious and timely entrance and a dance to a backing audio of Santa Baby.
At the ballot, Henry Mantel (Michael Luke Walsh) was deservingly elected by the candy-caned masses. His monologue had the crowd in convulsions, earning an overwhelming Thursday night majority. The rest of the candidates can take hope, there are two more chances to get the job.
Monorogue: Elf Off is at the Old Red Lion Theatre from 1st until 3rd December 2016, for further information or to book visit here.