Thursday, 4 August 2022

REVIEW: Monster at Park Theatre 90

Our lives should be dictated by choice, but fate inevitably takes a hand and creates a chain of events beyond our control. If we're lucky our parents will teach us right from wrong and provide a design for life. But sometimes a parent can be a catalyst for the badness that lurks deep within. Monster is a disturbing tale that is sadly never far away from the headline writer's keyboard. Author and co-star Abigail Hood has delivered an impressive piece with strong characters and sharp dialogue that maintains quality throughout.

Glasgow in the mid-noughties sees wild child Kayleigh Grey (Abigail Hood) playing in a wasteland strewn with tyres and rubble. Best friend Zoe Douglas (Caitlin Fielding) has crept out of school to look for the daring and wilful Kayleigh. Zoe is attracted by her friend's taste for anarchy. Kayleigh has been expelled from two schools and kept local police occupied with her misdemeanours. Teacher Rebecca Hastie (Emma Keele) is concerned for her charges but is heavily pregnant and her husband Steve (Kevin Wathen) stresses for her well-being. Kayleigh is goaded by abusive, Bible-quoting mother Hazel (Gillian Kirkpatrick) who has a nifty line in hypocrisy. A revelation causes Kayleigh to take action that will have far-reaching consequences for all concerned. The story moves forward fourteen years and Kayleigh is about to start a new life with her fiancé John (Kevin Tomlinson). But will the past affect their future happiness?

This raw and earthy play pulls no punches and leaves the audience in no doubt as to the explicit nature of the narrative. A pulsing soundtrack provides an authentic feel that bottles the atmosphere in an intimate space. Despite the alarming subject matter, it packs natural power in the portrayal of lives fractured by circumstance. The concept of redemption comes to the fore and questions whether we truly believe in rehabilitation. It poses more questions than it can possibly answer, and is terrifying that such events can and do happen. Having said that there are moments of light relief delivered with aplomb by a highly talented cast. It looks like another hit for the increasingly successful Park Theatre.

Review by Brian Penn

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Unallocated seating | Price of Ticket: £12/£15

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