Pros: Louise Beresford confidently holds your attention for a full 60 minute monologue.
Cons: Although the subject matter is compulsive viewing, it remains a sad indictment of the times in which we live.
In February 2017, I reviewed a play at the King’s Head Theatre called Villain. Written and directed by Martin Murphy it was a one act monologue telling the story of Rachel, a council worker whose failure to act had dire consequences. A little over a year later I am back at the King’s Head to watch its sequel. Called Victim, it features another one act monologue exploring the relationship between prison warden Tracey, and lifer Siobhan. Their relationship takes on a completely different dimension when new inmate Marcia enters their midst.
I was immediately fascinated as I had never seen a sequel on stage before, but also wondered whether loose ends from the first play left too many unanswered questions? However, it soon became clear that Victim was a strong play in its own right.
Louise Beresford was excellent in the dual roles of Tracey and Siobhan; carrying off a neutral southern accent with the former and the broadest Dublin accent imaginable with the latter. It was a remarkable transformation as Louise remained authentic in both dialects, rendering the story much easier to follow; always a blessing with a single actor on stage.
Siobhan always seemed to be the most interesting character; a curious mix of hardened criminal and lonely soul trying to make sense of her existence. With Marcia’s arrival she senses an opportunity to manipulate Tracey, who for her part is uncertain how to deal with Marcia and other inmates’ reaction to her. Tracey seems like a fish out of water, more librarian than prison officer; constantly stressing over her father’s heart attack, her stuttering relationship with boyfriend Terry and getting time off to attend a wedding. The prison warden is reliant upon Siobhan to smooth the way, as the realisation dawns that she is just as much of a prisoner constricted by the routine of incarceration.
The play gradually builds up to its conclusion, but somehow leaves something behind. We haven’t learnt nearly enough about two characters that were just beginning to warm up. Maybe I’ve been spoiled somewhat by the prequel Villain, which fleshed out its main character in more detail? With running time of an hour each, I’m surprised both plays haven’t been staged back-to-back. Separately they are good, but presented together they might just be excellent.
Author/Director: Martin Murphy
Producer: King’s Head Theatre
Booking Until: 21 April 2018
Box Office: 0207 226 8561
Booking Link: https://system.spektrix.com/kingsheadtheatre/website/eventdetails.aspx?WebEventId=victim