Review by Emma Whitelaw
WHEN simple things become insurmountable how do we make them
We all know that life was never supposed to be easy; but it seems
that life is more than unbearable for the characters in Sean Buckley’s
Matches for Monkeys now playing at The
Anne, Declan and Maura don’t live; they simple exist. Instead
of taking life by the horns, riding the wave and dealing with
its ups and downs, they cower away and hide. It is as though they’ve
admitted defeat and choose to let things get on top of them.
That’s not to say that they haven’t had a hard time,
Maura has done the best she can in raising her three children.
Her husband died over ten years ago, and her daughter has been
in and out of hospital.
She has been through therapy herself and was starting to improve
on the program her doctor gave her.
But it now seems that the regiment was too much and she’s
starting to let things slide back to what they were.
Mary Duddy is fantastic as Maura; she spends her day in the bath
or the airing cupboard locked away from the world.
But despite all this, her love for her children is like any other
mother’s. All she wants is the best for them, but it is
hard when they too suffer from a self-defeatist attitude.
Her daughter, Anne, played by Carolyn Tomkinson, is forever in
and out of therapy.
Tomkinson is absolutely brilliant as the delusional drunk. Her
incessant drinking wrecks havoc with her medication and she is
adamant that there is a man in her settee.
Her mother knows that it is merely
a figment of her imagination but humours her. She is used to her
daughter’s drunken antics and is an angel for tolerating
her dismal behaviour – as only a mother can do!
Gary Shelford plays the tormented Declan. He is probably the
only sane member of his family, but it seems the insanity is spreading
its way through him also.
This becomes particularly apparent when a visitor calls upon
his home, spreading God’s word. Declan verbally abuses the
intruder and sends him screaming from his poor excuse for a home.
Mark Huckett plays the Caller. He is fantastic and I must say
he not only stole the show but, in my opinion, he also saved it.
In what can only be described as a depressingly gloomy plot,
Huckett enters and lifts the play’s entire mood. He deserves
accolades for his hilarious performance, as both the bible bashing
Caller, and the Delivery Man.
The recently refurbished Chelsea Theatre is a fantastic venue;
the set was very imaginative and was certainly a befitting backdrop
for the gloomy goings on. The sound was also very clever.
It was incredibly believable when we’re first introduced
to Maura and all we can hear is her in the bath upstairs.
Matches for Monkeys, although depressing in content,
is still greatly inspirational.
Its characters may suffer a great deal but there is one thing
that shines through the adversity – and that is a mother’s
Matches for Monkeys by Sean Buckley. Directed by Tessa
Walker. Starring Carolyn Tomkinson, Gary Shelford, Mary Duddy
and Mark Huckett. 22nd June to 17th July at the Chelsea Theatre,
Worlds End Place, London SW10. Box Office 0870 990 8454.