This show is billed as a new comedy. However I would consider this a dramatic play with the odd light laugh thrown in. Immediately you are introduced to Caroline. Caroline has it all. A beautiful house, a rich husband, a clever son and a cookery show making her the number two goddess in the kitchen. On the surface it seems perfect. However Caroline drinks too much. Caroline sleeps in separate bedroom from her husband. Caroline has been caught drunk on camera and it’s about to be published in the Daily Mail. Poor Caroline. Janie Dee plays Caroline and takes us on an emotional journey with her. Janie is great at portraying that middle class lovey. I did find myself thinking how much they drink on stage would have me running for the ladies, but they all kept their composure. Janie takes us on her journey and we experience a passionate Caroline, A professional cook when the camera is on Carline, A stressed Caroline and a so drunk she can barely stand Caroline.
Leo is Caroline’s son. He has just graduated university with a first. He is trying to let his mum know how he is feeling but she doesn’t listen. However when she finds him smoking she has time to tell him off for this. (I’m sure mums can relate to this – I had the same conversation with my university son!). Leo is frustrated by his mum not listening to him. Leo is played by Jack Archer and he is excellent in the role, giving us a 20 something that really still needs his mum yet also fights for his independence to be him. He is torn when his mum tells him that they will pay off his 50K debts from Uni. Does he want to be independent or pay off his debts? It’s a tough choice. Jack played Leo perfectly and made me feel so sorry for him with parents who don’t really care. Amanda is Caroline’s PA. She is always sorting out issues and running around after Caroline but does it with a taste of contempt in her mouth. You are never sure if she is on Caroline’s side or against her. Amanda is played by Genevieve Gaunt and she is outstanding in the role and steals several scenes with her quips and one liners and her flamboyant attitude and sarcasm. Genevieve is an absolute gem. Mike is Carline’s husband and is played by Patrick Ryecart who gives an amazing performance of Mike; a really sterling performance of a solid, middle class man who knows his own mind. Okay he is bigoted and stuck in his old fashioned sexist ways. Okay he is not comfortable with any of modern society but sadly all round him Mike’s life is unfurling and he can literally do nothing about it.
Sally is played by Charlie Brookes and gives a new dimension to the word drama. Sally is a bit unbalanced and it is not immediately clear why she has turned up at Caroline’s house. Charlie is no stranger to drama (as a regular in Eastenders) and she gives a stunning performance of unhinged Sally where the audience are not sure if they should sympathise with her or be wary of her. Graeme is a non-drinker and is the poor carpenter who is trying to make ends meet. Jack Sandle plays Jack and his performance would make any lady fall in love with him. He is hardworking, solid, cares about his family and is trying to do the right thing. Jack has that raunchy, brooding thing going on. I can hear the hearts breaking now.
The whole cast are exceptional and I feel for them as this show has been sold under a false pretence. Firstly it is not what I would define as a comedy. I wouldn’t even call it a dark comedy. It is a dark drama. Secondly the story doesn’t really go anywhere. I also struggled with some of the content. It is not funny to use ‘have you got early onset dementia’ as a joke for forgetting. Dementia is a disease on a par with cancer and should not be joked about in such a flippant manner. It may also offend any audience members who have a close connection with it. The MS comments were accurate but again, I was not sure why they were there. Was it to raise awareness or to show how difficult it is to be a carer? It was not funny and all a bit lost in the script. Grahame kept saying he is a non-drinker. It is not clear throughout the play why he is a non-drinker and we never find out the relevance of the statement. I think the script could be much improved but the cast did a fantastic job.
The cast were highly commendable in their efforts. This is an exhausting play and I felt emotionally wrecked going on their journey with them. Fantastically acted and really well put together but in my opinion – not a comedy.
Monogamy is on at Aylesbury Theatre until 19 May 2018.