Pros: Some genuinely heart-felt and moving moments.
Cons: The space could have been used more creatively.
If you mention the word ‘monologue’ to a drama school graduate like myself, I get chills and am transported back to our showcase at the Drill Hall. It was a first for me to watch one that wasn’t an audition piece, but instead a collection as three short plays called Straight to the Heart. The Above the Arts theatre, with the fabulous Mad Hatters’ cafe within, is a compact studio space. It was sparsely dressed with three chairs and some hastily arranged black backdrop, but I still had high hopes for fabulous performances and intriguing stories in this lunchtime production.
What follows are three short plays that delve into the private lives and thoughts of some troubled souls caught in moral dilemmas, heart breaking scenarios and courageous struggles. And all this in just over an hour! Pulse, a trilogy of father-centric, alternating monologues, is occasionally difficult to follow, although the switching back and forth certainly gives the piece some pace. There’s a daughter whose father is struggling with his diagnosis, the life story of a gay man who wishes his dad could be everything he was not and finally, a father who becomes obsessed in his mission to empower his son. There are some solid performances, especially Alistair Brown’s comic timing and the devastating, steely stare of Daniel Simpson.
In One to the Head, One to the Heart, Simpson plays an embittered American husband who dreams of a large family, but struggles with the pressure and financial burden of caring for his disabled child. Simpson’s stony gaze and eerie stillness are engrossing. Nadia Shash convincingly plays his likeable wife and a loving mother who is desperate to show her inner strength. In the last play, The Truth Tellers, the humorous monologues switch between two unlucky-in-love loners, chasing fate and trying to show their true selves. Written by Ken Jaworowski, an American author and staff editor for the New York Times, there’s some beautiful, comic and certainly moving tales to be found in Straight to the Heart – a great escape for an alternative lunch hour.
Author: Ken Jaworowski
Director: Alex Dmitriev
Producer: Above the Arts
Box Office: 020 7836 8463
Booking Link: https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk/whats-on/straight-to-the-heart/
Booking Until: 28 October 2016