One Festival, Space Arts Centre – Review

One-18-WebMaking its final appearance at The Space Arts Centre, the One Festival returns for a season of short monologues. Split thematically into four programmes, the performances alternate throughout January. I attended Programme A during its matinee performance, replete with tales of celebrity, scandal and topiary. While there are moments of levity throughout, it is apparent in the first two plays that the intial humour is used to deftly broach matters of a more serious and nuanced nature…

Written by Laura Kaye Thomson and performed by Jennifer Greenwood, Treasure begins with a jaunt down memory lane. As Greenwood’s character examines the contents of her mother’s shed, she rummages through her childhood belongings (with particular attention to her Tigger toy, which she identifies with). I did wonder whether the play was going to enter into ‘Christopher Robin’ territory and talk about the natural growing apart from childhood companions. However, without giving too much away, the monologue ventures into the aftermath of her parents’ divorce and relationship of the daughter with her mother.

Asides from their ups and downs over the years, the monologue tentatively hints the daughter may be more like her mother than she would dare to admit (with some obvious caveats) and under different circumstances have followed her mother’s emotional journey. Between the pillars of Janis Joplin and Sylvia Plath, Greenwood’s character navigates her emotionally-laden memories and tries to find closure…

Controversial figures in showbusiness have always been around, but over the years rumours of their actions have often been squashed. Until now. Last year saw Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein facing two decades’-worth of allegations regarding sexual harrassment, which re-opened the doors to the accountability of directors such as Woody Allen and Bernardo Bertolucci… Directed by Adam Hemming, Meeting Roman Polanski by Janice Hallett sees Jessica White’s character preparing to meet her ‘hero’. Initially anxious about how she should greet one of cinema’s most famous auteurs, the interviewer talks about Polanski’s wartime experiences, which in hindsight were the crucible for his directing style and psychological make-up.

However, as much as she admires Polankski, the interiewer can’t turn a blind eye to his past actions, leading to some very pertinent questions. Where do we draw the line that separates art from the artist that creates it? Should films (plus music and plays for that matter) be blacklisted because of the ‘ethics’ of their creators? Certainly these question have also been raised recently with Out of Joint Productions, its original involvement with the play Rita, Sue and Bob Too and the play’s current revival at the Royal Court…

Directed by Anthony Houghton, Inside Alan is written and performed by Mitch Day. Continuing on the subject of celebrities, Day’s monologue takes a wry look at obsession and the projection of our wants and desires onto people we don’t know. The detail in Day’s observations about Alan Titchmarsh’s home provides much of the humour (including many references to Ground Force). However, it becomes apparent the comfort that Malcom, Day’s character, seeks from Titchmarsh stems from a deeply-rooted incident in his past…

Short and sweet, A Sweet Life which is written by Guleraana Mir and performed by Alice Langrish, also looks at a childhood event and how it has humorous repercussions in adulthood.

Concluding programme A is The Mighty Oak Conqueror by Mike Carter. Performed by Tom Michael Blyth and directed by Katherine Timms, the monologue looks at the consequences of one man’s impromptu decision to climb a tree and his inability to ask for help. Exhibiting the stereotypical classic British reserve, his predicament is exacerbated by his aversion to speaking the truth…

© Michael Davis 2018

four-stars

The One Festival runs at The Space Arts Centre until 27th January. To check dates and times of each programme, go to: https://space.org.uk/event/one-festival/

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