The Me Plays at The Old Red Lion
Written and performed by Andrew Maddock, The Me Plays is a rhythmic flow of modern day anecdotal humour and heartfelt confession. The intimate size of The Old Red Lion Theatre performance space lends itself well to the personal verbal salvo of the solo character.
The two acts are presented as different monologues that deal with different themes but echo one another in their focus on western life for men. The first presents a 30-year-old man wading through existence, with an addiction to porn and a broken heart buried deep beneath it. Frank and delivered like a confident stand up comic, Me – played by Maddock – is a thoughtful but troubled individual with a reflective, sensitive mentality tainted with depression. Looking at the role of digital stimulus, the play holds up a candid mirror to the relatively recent explosion of social media and the consequences for relationships with others and with ourselves. It’s refreshing to see a male character speak so expressively and in a multifaceted manner, much in the style of contemporary feminist theatre.
The second half is still rooted around the theme of life, though focused more on death as Maddock lies in a vertically positioned hospital bed. Swimming in dreams and stories of questioning the existence of a god, school day memories and parental relationships, it is an emotive plot with a fervent climax. Maddock’s skillful rhyming aptly captures colloquial clichés that are barely as old as the new dating app Tinder, yet nearly all references to popular culture were met with knowing laughter from the audience. The cadence of the script and clarity of diction meant the verse is crisp; apart from the odd laboured rhyme, the words are slick. Maddock’s performance is warm and genuine; neither over- nor underplayed, he is gifted in setting an audience at ease with honest and energetic acting.
Charlie Marie Austin’s set design is complementary to the theme of cyber space, and lighting by Christopher Nairne enhances the fluorescent tape that lines the performance space. The sound, designed by Sam Underwood is sharp and without being overpowering keeps a steady scene with the rumble of diegetic city sounds.
Food for thought and cause for nostalgic belly laughs, The Me Plays is a successful example of how modern poetics can work in theatre.
Photos: Hannah Ellis
The Me Plays is on at The Old Red Lion Theatre until 20th September 2014, for further information or to book visit here.