Heretic Voices is the culmination of a national competition to find the best new writing in monologue form. From the 1,136 submitted scripts, these three exceptional plays were selected by Michael Billington, Lolita Chakrabarti, Monica Dolan and Mel Kenyon.
All three are written by women and all three are powerful, emotional, rage-filled works that rail against injustice but contain tenderness, humour and passion. It’s easy to see why these plays were selected, and great to see such simple but urgent storytelling at The Arcola.
Woman Caught Unaware by Annie Fox tackles body shaming, aging and the way society regards and discards women over a certain age. Mary (Amanda Boxer) is an old school University Lecturer with some caustic and often hilarious observations on the hand holding expectations of her graduate students, the internal politics of academia and what it means to be brave. Boxer inhabits her character completely and Jessica Edwards direction tenderly reveals Mary as an imperfect woman with strong views and deep scars. I wasn’t sure about the very dramatic ending, feeling the play works best when Mary’s rage is simmering under the surface, but this is a thoughtful, seering commentary on what it means to be objectified and vilified as an older woman.
Sonya Hale’s Dean McBride takes us to a Croydon council estate and introduces ten year Dean. Ted Reilly plays Dean with an erratic wide-eyed innocent toughness that’s endearing. He’s kinetic, he’s complex and he’s growing up in a world of addiction, death and disappointment. Hale’s skilled use of language and razor-sharp writing captures his defiance, his humour and his take on the world with vivid intensity. Roy Alexander Weise keeps the energy high for this piece and makes good use of the simple staging. Dean McBride is filled with heart, compassion and fury.
A Hundred Words for Snow by Tatty Hennessy again explores childhood, death and the desire to escape, but in very different circumstances. Rory (Lauren Samuels) is fifteen and grieving for her father. Determined to take one last trip with him she sets off, with his ashes, to the North Pole. This is an exceptional performance by Samuels whose Rory is whip-smart, scorchingly funny and so recognisable that you can’t help but love her. Hennessy’s script is
inspired and fast-paced, filled with taut observations and brilliant humour. Max Gill’s direction of this piece is flawless, from Rory’s nervous beginning to her dazzling finale there’s creativity and joy running throughout.
Heretic Voices has already extended its run at Arcola and it would be fantastic to see these monologues travel further. Heretic Productions have created some magic here and it’s a pleasure to witness this simple, powerful storytelling.
Review by Roz Wyllie
Heretic Voices is the new competition which looks for the best new writing in monologue form and the recently announced winners, chosen by Michael Billington, Lolita Chakrabarti, Monica Dolan and Mel Kenyon will each have their monologues produced and performed by leading actors and directors.
Award-winning director Roy Alexander Weise directs Ted Reilly in Sonya Hale’s Dean McBride; Max Gill directs Lauren Samuels in A Hundred Words for Snow by Tatty Hennessy; and Amanda Boxer performs Woman Caught Unaware by Annie Fox, directed by Jessica Edwards. The three monologues will be performed each evening and they will also be published as a collection ‘Heretic Voices’ by Nick Hern Books.
By Sonya Hale
Performed by: Ted Reilly
Director: Roy Alexander Weise
Dean McBride is a vivid and poetic story of loss and redemption set on a Croydon council estate.
A HUNDRED WORDS FOR SNOW
By Tatty Hennessy
Performed by: Lauren Samuels
Director: Max Gill
A Hundred Words for Snow describes a teenage girl’s solo journey to the North Pole with her father’s ashes.
WOMAN CAUGHT UNAWARE
By Annie Fox
Performed by: Amanda Boxer
Director: Jessica Edwards
Woman Caught Unaware by Annie Fox is a searing examination of the culture of body shaming. This is Fox’s debut play.
24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London E8 3DL
9 January–20 January 2018