14 April 2011

April 14: A Night of New Stories

Ten Four Theatre gave their inaugural production to a packed arch tonight with a series of monologues inspired by today's date.

The first of eight pieces to open the evening could be either terrifying or exhilarating. To ensure the latter, a director would dream of being able to cast someone like Tom Mison and he would hope to be given the kind of writing with which he can at once hit the ground running whilst working the audience around his fingers like putty. Everything was right about "True Love" by Ziella Bryars. Directed by Kate Shearman to within a centimetre of each pause, there was as much comedy the breaths so deftly delivered by Mr Mison, as there was in the heartbreaking text. A tale of love, betrayal, revenge and deep longing.

Sophia Branson Boursot's "Cat Woman", directed by Laura Keefe might have had a tough task to follow that opening piece but Hannah James' quirky and charming delivery kept the momentum going with a tale of unexpectedly acquired companionship and the conspiracy of lottery numbers.

Charlotte Coy's performance in Maev Mac Coille's "A Door" was positively seductive as she recounts the moment when she fell hopelessly in love with her partner. This piece had wit, a touch of absurdity and a beautiful resolve.

For the final piece before the interval, Tom Mison takes the role of the writer/director of "The Bounded" and leaves the performance to Tim Wyatt whose credentials were sadly left off the programme notes for the night. He presents his monologue from within a cupboard which is very nearly tall enough for him to stand up straight in. Nearly that is, but not quite and therein lies the immediate visual cue that this was going to be deliciously silly. So it continued, with clues, a series of silly anecdotes and occasional apparently random outbursts which all pulled nicely together to reveal an April Fool's joke which did not go to plan. Another cleverly constructed piece from Mr Mison.

After an interval, Jolyon Coy was directed by Charlotte Coy (she of the iridescent performance in "A Door") in "The Lasker Award" by Fred Quillemby. This was an achingly funny introduction to addiction control with which Mr Coy kept us in stitches.

If you were to hold a gun to my head and ask if there were any weaker points to this wonderful evening, I would have to say that Lisa Ommanney's "Angel" must carry that mantel. It is a well written piece and Faye Merrall's direction of Tom Moores was perfectly fine but this piece was bravely sombre in the middle of the other taught comedic pieces and it is only for that reason, I would say it was less engaging.

"PERFECT + DAY - STRESS" by Tom Glover was performed by Sam Bern to a degree that once again had me clutching various organs for fear they'd pop out of me with all the laughter. It was just another tale of an obsessive compulsive numerologist. It had to be a pitch perfect performance for it to work at all and under the directorship of Christopher Brandon, it was just that.

Mr Brandon wrote the last piece, "John" in which Jolyon Coy directed James Rigby in another heartbreaking performance. A story of bullying and revenge, some of this piece does rely perhaps a little too much upon the audience being theatrically savvy but happily, on 14th April 2011 in Southwark, the target assembly was entirely present.

Everyone involved in putting this evening together should be exhausted and very proud.