York Theatre Royal – until Saturday 26th May 2018.
Reviewed by Michelle Richardson
Produced by The Original Theatre Company and Ghost Light Theatre Productions, York Theatre Royal presents Monogamy, as part of a small national tour before heading to London.
Caroline Mortimer (Janie Dee) is a TV cook adored by nation and appears to have it all – a sparkling career, a big house with the perfect kitchen, a wealthy (golf) loving husband, smart kids, the perfect life. Behind the camera though all is not as it seems as we watch Caroline’s life unravelling before our eyes.
Staged solely around the kitchen, the play begins with a rehearsal for her TV show with her new assistant Amanda (Genevieve Gaunt) standing in for the Michelin starred Swiss chef who will be appearing in the final show. The hat comes off, and the phone loving, coke snorting, cocky and belligerent PA comes to life trying to minimise the impact of some embarrassing photos that a Sunday rag have gotten of Caroline, after a drunken night out. Caroline is unwinding with a few glasses of wine, even though she is giving up, and her son Leo (Jack Archer) has just returned home from Cambridge with a first-class degree, now vegan and has just had his heart broken.
As Caroline prepares a special meal to toast Leo’s success the façade is rapidly slipping with each sip of wine that passes through her lips. Leo is berating his mother for not telling his father, Mike (Patrick Ryecart) something important and as it happens, not a surprise to anyone when he finally blurts its out. When we get to see Mike, he is the shade of bright red beetroot after playing golf out in the sun all day, self-absorbed, loud and domineering, and showing all the traits of a male chauvinist harking back to the 70’s, incapable of showing any of his family any affection, maintaining that stiff upper lip.
The other players are Sally (Charlie Brooks), mistaken for a new lottery winner who is interested in buying their perfect house, and Graeme (Jack Sandle), their builder and as it turns out Sally’s husband. Something has been going on between Caroline and Graeme, and the mentally unstable Sally is there to beg Caroline not to steal her husband away. As we hear the storm outside getting worse, with the wine free flowing, everyone becoming more unstable and with all those knives around, one can only ask what is going happen?
Billed as a comedy I unfortunately found it somewhat lacking in laughs and was a bit of a disappointment. Though parts of the play resonated with me, the vegan, lovelorn son, I just could not get involved with the characters and ultimately didn’t really care what happened to them. I found some of the acting a bit too much, Leo continuously shouting out for his secret to be heard, the interaction with Caroline just didn’t ring true, and Amanda with her behaviour and attitude literally all over the place, nobody is surely like that. The only exception was Brooks as Sally, watching her meltdown was convincing and believable, but unfortunately her time on stage was limited.
The first act was drawn out with a lot of dialogue between mother and son, but not a lot of action and at times was dull. The second act had a bit more excitement but at times was bordering on the ridiculous, including the glorious nail biting end. Somewhat lacking, it just did not push the right buttons for me