My Beloved Monster and Me

Playhouse Theatre, Dunedin

15/03/2017 - 17/03/2017

Dunedin Fringe 2017

Production Details

Abby is the good girl and David is one of the boys. David has one thing on his mind and he’s not used to taking no for an answer but Abby might not be as helpless as she seems…

A darkly comedic and strangely sweet play from a fellow human being (I swear!) encouraging us all to communicate a little better with our monsters. For romantics and deviants alike, come along to the Playhouse Theatre to giggle, squirm and say “Awwww” at My Beloved Monster and Me this Fringe Festival.

Theatre ,

60 minutes

Quirky and disconcerting

Review by Paul Ellicott 16th Mar 2017

My Beloved Monster and Me is the offering of Dunedin based writer and director Anisha Hensley Wilson. Billed as a dark comedy for romantics and deviants alike, the play provides a curious and voyeuristic look at the lives of Abby and David, a not-so-perfect ‘perfect couple’, who in dealing with each other, have to contend with both literal and figurative monsters.

Abby and David have yet to consummate their relationship, and David is like a dog with a pun-intended bone, working to break Abby’s self-proclaimed ‘good girl’ resolve (among other things). However, it appears David is getting himself in for more than he bargained for, and that there is more to Abby’s supposed reticence than meets the eye. 

Victoria Ransom as Abby and Andrew Brinsley-Pirie as David both have nice moments. They appear at home on the stage, showing crisp diction and focus throughout the piece.

Andrew’s elocution and dignified stage presence lend themselves wonderfully to more classical theatre. In recent times he has been a standout performer in Globe Theatre productions of Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Comedy of Errors. However, these same strengths are obstacles in a very character-based comedy. For the piece to work we need to accept David as being dominant and dangerously desirable. I think a touch less polish in the delivery and a narrowing of actor’s natural expressiveness would achieve this better.

Also, at times I feel David’s dialogue is at odds with his character, which was not as clearly conceived or authentic as that of Abby. The writer’s voice and humour are evident in both characters; for me this resonates more convincingly in the female.

Victoria Ransom brings an enjoyable liveliness to the role of Abby, though I feel that her on-stage persona, dressed in short shorts and a low cut singlet, renders her self-proclaimed ‘good-girl’ stereotype as more aspirational than evident. She does however show good comedic timing, and brings relatability to her role.

The relationship between Abby and David is perhaps two dimensional, but I suppose that is indicative of most relationships when partners are in their early twenties. The characters profess to love each other, but we don’t sense they yet know each other on anything close to an emotional level. The piece jolts from playfully juvenile name-calling one minute to abrupt references about kinky sex the next. We get a hint that something is going wrong for David, perhaps with his family, by a question Abby asks him, though David side-steps without going into details, and the theme is not expanded upon elsewhere. I do not empathise with either character, but I don’t think I’m really supposed to, with the lines of morality and intent so purposely blurred.

A highlight is the (quite literal) twist at the end where the hunter becomes the hunted, and the freeze frames in the aftermath, which are laugh-aloud funny. The audience addresses in the beginning are also well adopted. While the dialogue is a touch thin in parts, and the play could benefit from a couple of stylistic changes, Hensley Wilson and team have given a solid account of themselves here.

This quirky and disconcerting piece is geared toward a younger adult set, and is warmly received by a good sized audience at the Playhouse on opening night.


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