Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Monologues Review

The Christmas Monologues

This is the second production by new Melbourne production company, Mellow Yellow. It's another of New Zealander Thomas Sainsbury's many plays (check out here for a recent Q&A he did with Australian Stage), and as the title would suggest, it's a motley collection of monologues. The characters do not inhabit each others worlds; they are simply connected by having the opportunity to tell us, the listener, what Christmas means to them.

We have a wife and mother whose Christmas is regimented and time stamped and filled with duty; the abandoned and vengeful professional Christmas tree decorator; a Christmas bon-bon sweat-shop tycoon; an elf with Santa fetish; a pillow-wielding nurse in an old aged home; a sick turkey farmer and a born-again Christian.

As well as Christmas binding these stories is the thread of dark humour. These are seven quite wrong Christmas tales, the level of wrongness varying from monologue to monologue, but all in all, all pretty wrong. And quite satisfying to anyone who regards the various elements of Christmas with healthy cynicism.

And lets face it – who hasn't had enough of the dutiful Christmas day and simply wanted to bail on it all? Who hasn't wished vengeance on their too-content ex on Christmas day? Who hasn't been grateful for their sweat-shop factory making their fortune on this day of giving? Who hasn't been an elf with dirty Santa fantasies that got them into big trouble...

Okay, so some of them are funny because they are true, others are funny because they are just that little bit twisted.

The Christmas Monologues gets off to an unsteady start , but if you hang in there you will be rewarded with some genuine, quite deliciously un-PC laughs. It could be the writing in the early couple of monologues, it could be the acting, but it just felt a little flat.

When our lusty Santa helper hit the stage, however, it was all laughs. This was a hilariously perverse story told by an actor (Steph Lee) clearly enjoying this character and filling in every kinky corner of her being.

I think all of us – to some degree - think Christmas is a bit of a pain in the bum. Check out The Christmas Monologues to find out why this collection of disparate characters also finds the whole thing a pain. It's a low budget production with the quiet patches well-worth putting up with for the pay-off when the acting matches the writing - and when that happens, it's squirmingly funny.

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