Monday Monologues: Contradictions at Bush Theatre
A Doll’s House actress Anjana Vasan stars in a short monologue written by Natasha Brown entitled Contradictions. This piece is part of the Bush Theatre’s Monday Monologues series, which is a wonderful forum for new works from British and Irish writers. All written and recorded during lockdown, the monologues are released fortnightly, to be enjoyed on repeat until next year.
Writer Natasha Brown is a London-based theatremaker whose artistic practices centre around identity and belonging, both of which themes are prominent in Contradictions. Vasan, the protagonist and solo artist in Brown’s monologue, is definitely not in love, or is attempting to convince herself with her whole being that she is not in love.
Brown’s writing is astute and quick-witted; she brings a welcome relief in her representation of the Covid-19 pandemic. Vasan says: “I decided to do yoga in my garden, because I’ve become that person now who does yoga in their garden,” and declares, “F**k it, since the world’s going to end…” whilst gesturing frustratedly to the sky and rolling her eyes.
Vasan records herself talking to a friend, describing how she is and what she has been doing during lockdown. It is assumed that the friend receiving the video is the person she is in love with. She portrays her love for this person as mildly obsessive, passionate and frantic. Pastime activities are related in a comedic way, with ranging tonality and wild eyes. Her feelings fluctuate by the minute as she speaks to her love through a screen, constantly repeating the phrase “I’m not in love with you, so don’t worry”. The repetition is endearing, which, set against the soundtrack of silence, is incredibly poignant. Vasan allows her feelings to be all-consuming, making the monologue naturally build, introducing the theme of identity. She explains that she isn’t acting like herself: “I strolled through the park just because I thought I would […]” and “[I] called my brother just to hear his voice, I never want to hear his voice”. Her deep love is changing the way that she views the world.
The monologue is filmed in close proximity to Vasan’s animated face, reflecting the way a deep love is invasive and at times feels overwhelming. The camera is fixed upon her whether she is speaking directly to it or staring out of her window. A sense of belonging is highlighted here, as the audience witness Vasan trapped – physically due to the pandemic, but also mentally due to her conflicting realisation of love. Her forward energy in itself provides another layer of belonging. She searches for a resolution within the depths of the camera in front of her.
Brown and Vasan have, together, cleverly struck the balance between energy and poignancy, with moments of real, raw emotion. The beauty of a short monologue is that one can watch it again, interpreting something unique every time.