The Space on the Mile (Venue 39), Edinburgh
4–24 August 2018
Guest reviewer: Hugh Simpson
Cheerfulness in the face of adversity characterises The Monster in the Hall by Capsize Collective and New Celts at The Space on the Mile.
David Greig’s play, about teenage carer Duck Macatarsney and her biker father with MS, features both a physical monster – a beaten-up motorbike – and a metaphorical one (the problem we prefer to avoid).
This is made entirely clear in one of a constant stream of meta-theatrical musings, bursts of music and general messing about. These are in many ways the weakest part of this production, being affected by a curious mixture of self-consciousness and over-exuberance.
When the cast is called upon to portray more conventional characters (if conventional is the word in such a larger-than-life situation), the actors are on much safer ground. Esther Wilkes anchors the production beautifully as Duck, with her combination of insecurities, loyalty and courageous hope spot on.
Scott Ringan, as her father, exemplifies the delicacy of Greig’s writing by finding considerable humour in the outwardly tragic situation of a man who wakes up one morning too blind even to make a macaroni cheese.
This ability to cook is vital, as they are expecting a visit from Social Services, as represented by Lucy Deehan’s beautifully realised, weirdly well-meaning Linda Underhill, obsessed by helping people through handing out leaflets. Deehan is a constantly interesting stage presence, also giving chaotic life to the figure of Duck’s presiding Catastrophe Fairy.
Cameron Banks’s Lawrence (‘just a straight man with an eye for good design’) and Heather Milne’s Norwegian anarchist biker Agnetha are two hugely expansive performances that threaten to teeter over into full-blown ham, but are always reined back by theatrical nous.
Iain Davie and Niloo-Far Khan’s direction creates a pacy, freewheeling performance that is constantly energetic and oddly thought-provoking. If the end result is almost wilfully uneven, it is always great fun.
Running time 1 hour 20 minutes (no interval)
TheSpace on the Mile (Venue 39), 80 High St, EH1 1TH
Saturday 4 – Friday 24 August 2018 (even dates only)
Even dates only at 12.50 pm
Book tickets on the Fringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/monster-in-the-hall
Company Facebook: @capsizecollective
The script is available at Amazon. Click below for details.