Monday Monologues: Anything for Cash at Bush Theatre Online
Carrying on with the Monday Monologues series, Bush Theatre returns with Anything for Cash by Sophie Ellerby. These short performances focus on new work from British and Irish writers, all of them having been written and recorded during lockdown. They are released every two weeks, and are then available to stream for a year.
Stefan Adegbola, known for his work in Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors and Titus Andronicus as well as Doctor Who, stars in this performance, directed by David Bailey. The unnamed protagonist sighs dramatically, and declares in a voiceover: “An affair is inconvenient at the best of times, especially in lockdown when your lover is keeping the country calm,” alluding to his secret relationship with the Prime Minister. After losing his job at the local café shortly after lockdown started, the character begins to feel the pandemic taking a toll on both his financial and mental state.
The pair’s clandestine relationship has been going on for five years, Ellerby’s writing punctuating it with humorous one-liners. Adegbola’s portrayal of the character’s downward spiral is comical, his physical expressions adding to the tragic state of affairs – it is both detailed and natural without being caricatured.
The piece is edited with precision, each section cutting into the following frames fittingly. One minute we see Adegbola anticipating a response on his phone, the next he is lying half naked on the kitchen floor; in another scene he is dressed as Gloria Gaynor to appease a stranger on Craigslist, hilariously calling to mind Titus Andromedon from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Tituss Burgess).
Adegbola voices both characters; his take on the politician is executed particularly well, self-righteous and full of contempt. As the protagonist speculates if the Prime Minister is hacking into his computer, a threat hangs in the air as he realises he has nothing to lose, and has had enough of the latter’s power games. As he rightly asserts to the politician: “people’s lives are political.” It’s another point in which Ellerby’s piece shines an observant light on the current state of the world, in a thought-provoking Black Mirror-esque style.