Pros: An immensely likable performance from Maddie Rice, making light of a demanding script.
Cons: A story told in flashback wasn’t easy to follow at times.
There are times when we get things wrong in our job. The consequences are, for the most part, negligible: embarrassment, a knock to our confidence or maybe the loss of a bonus. But what happens if an error changes someone’s life beyond all recognition? That’s the conundrum posed by Villain, a one act monologue featuring social worker Rachel, played by Maddie Rice. A compact 60 minute performance tells Rachel’s story in flashback, jumping from her days as a highly paid sales rep, to her new career in social work and the aftermath that inevitably clings to ‘one of those cases’.
Watching the story unfold, my mind drifted back to disturbing headlines cataloguing the failure of social services to spot a look, a comment or a warning sign that was so obvious anyone could have seen it. Couldn’t they? Yes, welcome to the world of a social worker; come and be judged by a tut and a wagging finger that says I told you so. Do you risk accusations of interference if you get involved, or incompetence if you stay out of it? What I found curious was Rachel’s motivation for switching careers. There she was, jogging along in a well-paid job, seemingly everyone’s darling, until suddenly, a swift career change into social work. Rachel, it seemed, wanted to make a difference, but why would she swap comfort for a stressful labour of love where she would get no thanks for her efforts. This fact continued to nag at me as the story wore on, it seemed an inherent weakness in an otherwise tight script. The flashbacks were slightly confusing as they were executed at breakneck speed, which may have been necessary in a single character monologue. Even so, there were moments of real drama, humour and raw power.
Maddie Rice carried the story admirably and made Rachel a passionate, honest and likable character. The most powerful passages were saved for the aftermath of the case, where Rachel was hounded by the press, scrutinised by her peers and judged by a public desperate to point the finger. This is a story that sadly rings too true, where heroes and villains seem interchangeable, if only to ease our own conscience. A solid piece all round.
Performed by: Maddie Rice
Written & Directed by: Martin Murphy
Dramaturg: Jules Haworth
Producer: Bruised Sky Productions
Box Office: 0207 226 8561
Booking Link: https://kingsheadtheatre.ticketsolve.com/#/shows/873560596/events
Booking until: 4 March 2017