Review: Roaring Voices(part2): Hotbed Festival – The Junction, Cambridge

As part of Menagerie’s Hotbed Festival, eight authors were invited to create eight new monologues especially for the festival. The brief was open but with a suggestion of a ‘looking back and looking forward’ theme. The monologues are presented in two batches during the festival.

Death Of A Cyclist
Writer: Steve Waters
Performer: Emma Beattie
Director: Patrick Morris

Anyone that has experienced driving around Cambridge will find resonance in this piece looking at the aftermath of a cyclist colliding with a bus. Steve Waters’ piece sees a woman having an out of body experience and finding herself dying on the street. She panics that her death will cause all sorts of logistical problems at work and at home, before slowly realising that those aren’t her problems anymore. As her life fades she recognises she is just one of countless tragedies that will barely cause a ripple in the wider world – her hopes and regrets and unsaid wishes soon forgotten. Emma Beattie gives the cyclist just the correct amount of rage and shock, tempered with genuine regret and sadness.

The Talented Mister…
Writer: Janice Okoh
Performer: Jon Bonnici
Director: Paul Bourne

The perfect job requires the perfect CV. It also requires a bit of assistance to even land the interview for that dream job. That’s where this wide-boy Mr fix-it comes in. Offering career advice with a difference he can advise where to lie on your CV and even provide the fake certificates to go back up the lies. Only in Janice Okoh’s monologue he sees them as embellishments that polish the existing rather than outright lies. It’s a fast flowing character study that, among the comedy, delivers an uncomfortably accurate truth. Jon Bonnici’s portrayal is spot on, delivered at full throttle. A sub plot around a wrong number adds little to the structure but otherwise a well observed character study.

The Odyssey Of Dimitri Amiras
Writer: Kit Lambert
Performer: Jay Villiers
Director: Jacqui Honess-Martin

Does a man ever truly desert his country or does his heart always belong in his homeland? For a Greek man looking back over his life in the UK the mythical merges with memory as he recalls lost loves, and shattered dreams smashed on rocks just as his clifftop home is also likely to do. Kit Lambert paints a rich and vivid landscape of past memory, both personal and poetic – a series of strong visual images lodge in the mind. Jay Villiers brings these images to life with passion and feeling but overall it’s hard to engage with the character or, sad as his tale is, really feel the same passion that he obviously does. In many ways it feels like it needs a longer piece to fully explore the backstory and motives of the character

Writer: Katy Walker
Performer: Bethan Walker
Director: Jacqui Honess-Martin

While the chronicles of war focus on the warriors, often little thought is given to those left behind. Andromache, wife of Trojan War hero Hector, is inner turmoil. A woman who abhors conflict is required to publically support her warrior husbands bloody conflict. Katy Walker examines the impact on an outwardly strong woman who is forced by society convention to condone what her heart tells her she should condemn. Despite the historical figures, the impact on conflict on the families left behind is timeless. Bethan Walker imbibes Andromache with a dignity and poise, voicing her doubts inwardly but never betraying her husband. The piece does perhaps assume some understanding of the historical characters but even without that it’s a promising debut from Walker

The Surprising Germination of Andrea Fitzgerald
Writer: Alison Carr
Performer: Kate Maylon
Director: Paul Bourne

How many people were told as a child that if they swallowed an apple seed, a tree would grow in their stomach? For Andrea Fitzgerald that story has stuck in her mind. Andrea has a large whole in her life, her husband has left her and she is yearning for a child. Her troubled mind though has confused gardening with conception and its clear this is a young woman in desperate need of help. Alison Carr’s monologue cleverly reveals the layers so we’re never entirely sure what is real or what is a figment of Andrea disturbed mind. Kate Maylon is a chilling Andrea. A childlike innocence barely concealing the hurt and darkness that shapes her world.

Originally written for The Public Reviews

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