Pros: Seven sharp mini-plays that were polished and well performed, set in an intimate space.
Cons: All but the last piece were completely comedic, and even though the styles were different, I would prefer more variation.
A Bad Case of the Mondays is a collection of seven short plays, all within the theme of, you guessed it, Monday! The show is performed in the smallest, most intimate auditorium of the Park Theatre, Finsbury Park’s wonderful, new theatre. It felt more like a rehearsal room but despite this, all seven pieces were polished and well-written rather than in development. Since there were no elevated stage areas, the actors were almost impossible to see from the back row when they weren’t standing. I missed a good portion of the work because of this. This was the worst thing about the evening however, and something that could easily be rectified.
The first play, Work Makes You Free, related the case of a young actress forced to work for free at Poundland to keep her benefits. Her opponent is a cold businesswoman who finds herself enchanted by the power she gets from anonymously bullying the actress online. Both performers, Gemma Rook and Antonia Reid, played their comically stereotypical characters with excellent timing. The play was well structured and had a good balance between the two characters, and though the dominant tone was comedy, it also had a dark side. This was the best of the seven pieces.
The next one, Lunch Break, was an absurd comedy about break room dynamics, stealing, and cat food. Toast or Cereal gave the audience a domestic farce about an old-fashioned couple in the middle of a breakdown over breakfast foods. A Valued Employee completed the first half of the show with an unstable gallery worker trying to convince her boss to let her come back to work after an incident. This was probably the weakest piece, due to the characters being unbelievably exaggerated.
Thank Crunchie It’s Not Friday was a clever play set in the first level of hell, Monday. A new ‘employee’ arrives and is deposited at her work station, where she loses it at the thought of an eternity of Mondays. This piece had a rather abrupt ending, but the rest of the script felt developed. The Lost Case of the Mondays followed a band, The Mondays, on their journey to find a stolen briefcase in a case of mistaken identity. Robert Welling and Robert Bradley were very convincing as hipster recording artists.
The final play was The Lionel Blair Sex Years, the only piece that was poignant as well as funny. A lesbian couple question the worth of their relationship after five years. A crisis in confidence and the dreaded feeling of having to go into work on Monday are soothed and all ends happily.
Some of these short plays could easily be further developed into full-length plays, but they fit together beautifully as a collection. It would have been better to see more pieces in the style of the last play, or some drama mixed in. All of the performances and direction were excellent and a pleasure to watch (when I could actually see the actors). A wet night in January is easily forgotten when watching this production.
Author: Michael Ross, E. Spencer Evoy, Caro Dixey, Sarah Pitard, Giles Morris, Katherine Rodden, Serena Haywood
Director: Cat Robey, Lucy Wray, Gavin Dent, Theo Ancient, Tutku Barbaros, Eyal Israel, Liz McMullen
Producer: Paradigm Theatre Company
Box Office: 0207 870 6876
Booking Link: http://parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/a-bad-case-of-mondays
Booking Until: 27th January (Mondays only)