A Bad Case Of The Mondays is a series of 7 short plays on at the Park Theatre every Monday evening in the month of January and features tales of that imminent day we all dread on a Sunday evening as we ready ourselves for the week. This is by far one of Paradigm Theatre’s funniest evenings of theatre. Overall, the writing is sharp and surprising and the same can be said for the performances.
First up was Work Makes You Free, which puts a young actress working at Poundland at centre stage. The antithesis of this airheady actress and benefit scrounger is the icy businesswoman who, unbeknownst to the actress, finds joy in ganging up on her. Jane (Gemma Rook) and Willow (Antonia Reid) give superb performances giving their monologues directly to the audience with just the right balance of dry humor and dynamism that keeps you reeled in. Writer Michael Ross makes some really poignant points on the over-priveleged middle-class and the new urban underclass that is emerging in London today. He also takes the mick out of the the over-saturated market of theatre companies and artists, he even has the actress found a theatre company called the precariat theatre company. Here’s a writer who’s not afraid to poke some fun at his own world. Refreshing!
Lunch Break followed suit with a most unusual lunch break tale where stealing someone’s cat food turns into a more fatal act then one would have ever guessed.
The third play was Toast or Cereal which tells the break up of a couple in crisis metaphorically through the woman’s change in taste from her muesli to her new found interest in toast. The metaphor is stretched out to its limit but works just fine as both actors Michael Shon and Kim Burnet have just the right chemistry to make it work. A very simple story but told with a great deal of truth.
Rounding out Act 1 was A Valued Employee written by Sarah Pitard which is the story of a very unruly and incompetent employee who begs her boss to take her back after a big mess up a few weeks prior. The story is full of wonderful twists and Bethan Hanks plays the unrestrained worker with a good balance of being very sweet and then really naughty. The ending came with a bang and set us off on our merry way to the bar!
Thank Crunchie It’s Not Friday opens up the second act and is set in hell. In dantesque style, the first ring of hell is of course Monday and a new arrival or worker , Alice played by Sian Gordon, has just come down to take her place along side Trevor played with great quirkiness by Paul Thomas. It is probably one of the more surreal pieces of the 7 and makes you feel quite suffocated wondering what would you do if you were stuck in the first ring of hell with only the yellow pages to flip through in order to find your true calling? Gloomy.
The Lost Case of the Mondays is really a fun take down of the whole hipster dipster culture that we are constantly surrounded by these days. It is the story of “The Mondays”, a ubber cool new band who lose a mysterious briefcase on the tube. These Shoreditch hippies are traumatized by this grave loss and are now in cahoots with a woman who wants to get the code for their coveted case. Both Robert Welling and Robert Bradley make a great comedic pair in their retro-clad outfits and Saskia Roddick plays the “Suit” with just the right amount of despair and intensity.
Last up was the very sweet and touching The Lionel Blair Sex Years where a lesbian couple are trying to make sense of where they are in their relationship and comfort each other on that typical anxiety-filled Sunday evening that we can all face from time to time. Both Katherine Rodden and Lee Lytle bring tender performances to the piece and there is much space for them to let moments sit for a little while. The references to that wonderful world of comic books and the fear of Lytle’s character that maybe her girlfriend is more of a “Marvel” kind of girl than a “DC Comics” type is funny and seemingly appropriate language for her to use dressed as she is in a Superman costume.
Paradigm Theatre has started 2014 on the right foot. Mondays don’t have to be a drag. Head down to the Park Theatre before its over! On till the 27th of January. For more information please visit www.paradigmtheatrecompany.co.uk For tickets please visit, www.parktheatre.co.uk
Authors: Michael Ross, E. Spencer Evoy, Caro Dixey, Sarah Pitard, Giles Morris, Katherine Rodden, Serena Haywood
Directors: Cat Robey, Lucy Wray, Gavin Dent, Theo Ancient, Tutku Barbaros, Eyal Israel, Liz McMullen