The rather opaque choice of title for this performance of material written by members of the Rondo Writers Network reflects its somewhat experimental format: a number of unrelated monologues and duologues, linked, if that’s the word, by short, equally unrelated ‘transitions’. If, like me, you don’t read programme notes till after you’ve seen a production, you may be a little puzzled as to what prompts some of the pieces. There is a heated argument between, I think, a brother and sister about the first admittance to Oxford University of women students, seemingly set at the time, which is lively but a bit one-sided – he being the archetypal Victorian sexist pig, and she having all the answers of a 21st century feminist.
There is a wonderful monologue of a young woman at a club looking for a match to light her fag. Prompted only, it says here, by the stated fact of the invention of the wooden match in 1927 (typo: Wikipedia says 1827) – which has nothing to do with the piece: it is actually a superb display of acting which vividly portrays the ordinary dilemmas of life, love and nightclubs for such a woman. Too many pieces to describe all of them in any detail – the excitable Italian in passionate love with a famous painting; the woman devastated at the loss of her Jewish friend moving to Israel because of French anti-semitism; a slightly implausible fantasy in which Neighbourhood Watch somehow turns into the Stasi; a rambling argument between a gay couple in a car while the satnav unexplainedly malfunctions. Some of them work very well, some of them less so; all are expertly performed by the talented and versatile cast. The pieces work best when they are explorations of character; less so when they are just means of debating philosophical points. Most enjoyable are a delicious fantasy of Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones and Jim Morrison of the Doors in a sort of less than purgatorial waiting room outside the Pearly Gates, wondering how to get in; and a monologue by an excitable, nervy, but engaging character trying to work out how to make an edible book to impress the librarian that’s the object of his affections.
John Christopher Wood