The Awkward Monologues

Te Karanga Gallery, Auckland

18/02/2010 - 20/02/2010

Production Details

“I’m not gonna bullshits yous and say it was love at first sight. It wasn’t.”

1. lacking skill or dexterity; clumsy.
2. lacking social graces or manners: a simple, awkward frontiersman.
3. requiring caution; hazardous; dangerous: an awkward turn in the road.
4. hard to deal with; difficult; requiring skill, tact, or the like: an awkward situation; an awkward customer.

Come witness seven monologues by seven young Auckland writers, all on the theme of awkwardness.

Where: Te Karanga Gallery, 208 K’Road.
Hen: Thursday 18,Friday 19, Saturday 20 February, at 8:00pm
How much: Pay what you think it’s worth, after the production.

Collectively offensive, laugh-out loud funny, voyeuristically embarrassing and sometimes uncomfortably intimate

Review by Sian Robertson 22nd Feb 2010

A series of ten-minute monologues, on the theme of awkwardness, showcases the work of seven mostly-new writers. For some it’s their theatre-writing debut. Many of them have a background in other writing fields, such as journalism or film.

This is an exciting new crop of playwrights, under the wing of one of Auckland’s most talked about young playwrights, Thomas Sainsbury. With Sainsbury as director (as well as writer of the first piece, ‘Eulogy’), there are no holds barred on his trademark cringe-inducing scenarios and colourfully neurotic characters.

The Monologues reminded me of another story of quintessentially awkward characters and situations: Sainsbury’s play Loser, which chronicles the reunion of some dysfunctional twenty-somethings reliving old torments at a high school reunion.

The Awkward Monologues are collectively offensive, laugh-out loud funny, voyeuristically embarrassing and sometimes uncomfortably intimate.

The Eulogy is written by Thomas Sainsbury and performed by Isla Adamson. Adamson plays a foul-mouthed, white trash ‘widow’ giving an unwelcome speech at her ex-boyfriend’s funeral. She’s brutally funny.

Guy is written by Paul Scantlebury. Jonny Hair plays a social misfit practising in the mirror before work and rote-learning a mental list of appropriate and inappropriate (in his own mind) office behaviour, and how to avoid awkward situations with colleagues.

The Penis Monologues: Writer Sally Conor teams up with actor Andrew Munro, playing a penis, who tells the story from his own point of view, as his virginal owner goes through the discomfort of unsuccessful flirting and failed dates. This one is raucously funny, and easy to laugh at.

Hallo: Lara Fischel-Chisholm plays a homesick, lonely, German home-stay whose only friend seems to be her online video-blog. She talks to her laptop about her failed resolution to not fall in love so easily and to lose weight. Her character is an excruciating morsel of awkwardness – the pick of the bunch. Written with insight by Nikki Castle, Hallo leaves the audience with just as many embarrassingly awkward silences as laugh out loud moments.

Menologue: Benedict Wall plays the newly married, black-eyed sleaze-bag spilling his guts to some kind of therapist. He paces the floor telling what is obviously the lead-up to how he got the bruises and what went wrong on the ‘happiest day’ of his life. Finbarr Bunting has written a punchy piece with a satisfying twist.

Murray: James Wenly plays a simpleton bus driver who swells with pride as he tells us of the minutiae of his day, the people he meets and what happened on the day he lost his job. Sahar Lone’s somewhat clunky script makes Murray a thin caricature rather than an engaging character, and I get bored with him.

Leslie’s Downfall: Steven Maxwell is Leslie, an aspiring tap-dancer stuck in a jammed elevator with three losers and the man he wants to have adopted babies with. It’s a great idea, and well executed by writer Lily Richards.

The style of the show as a whole works well: monologues with other actors playing minimal, silent supporting roles (in some cases). Overall the production is surprisingly slick for new talent, helped by an experienced cast and director.

At the end of the show you pay what you think it’s worth, which makes for a very democratic theatre-going experience (though I wonder how well it works in practice – I would probably forget to pay at the end).

There are rumours the Monologues will become a bi-monthly event, with a different theme each time. I recommend watching out for the next instalment.
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