The Theatreguide.London Review
In March 2020 the covid-19 epidemic
forced the closure of all British theatres. Some companies adapted
by putting archive recordings of past productions online, others
by streaming new shows. Until things return to normal we review
the experience of watching live theatre onscreen.
Helen Milne Productions at Assembly, Edinburgh August 2021
Productions' film is made up of three independent monologues. Written by
Stewart Melton in different styles and filmed by Caitlin Skinner in
different styles, the three stories and three characters have no
connection to each other, least of all the theme of interrupted journeys
implied by the title.
plotless character studies, they are best appreciated as showcases for
three skilled and personable performers.
'Rug Rat' finds
the elderly woman played by Dolina MacLennan lying on her floor, where
she has fallen, perhaps from a stroke. She speaks her thoughts about,
among other things, her dead dog, her drug-addicted daughter and the
grandson getting out of prison today.
But none of
these ever become as real as our admiration for the woman's
pain-resisting determination to stand up or at least reach her telephone
and get help.
obvious echoes here of one of Alan Bennett's original Talking Heads
monologues, but writer and actress give the woman a reality and
individuality – in part through a sometimes impenetrable Scots accent –
that are fresh and engaging.
the strongly created reality, several overhead shots go out of their way
to remind us that this is a film set and not a real room.
determined illusion-breaking opens 'Chase Scene,' set entirely within a
car, but with opening and closing sequences exposing a mock-up car in a
film studio with rear-projection scenes providing the supposed views
through back and side windows.
played by Karen Dunbar has lost her job to Covid lockdowns and is for
the moment a volunteer delivering groceries and medicines to shut-ins.
encounters with not-always-grateful recipients and a spot of road rage,
she repeatedly rejects phone calls from one person while repeatedly
trying to phone her former boss to get her job back and publishing comic
pics in the vain hope of getting someone on her list to respond.
In contrast to
the broken frames of the first two films, 'Here Boy' features overhead
crane or drone shots of a vast expanse of deserted beach to establish
that we are not in a studio.
plays a teenager whose dog has run off, leading him to grumble about his
life of troubles and indignities, including his parents' dragging him
away from his city friends to live on this bleak island. In another
style break, this is the only one of the three to employ voiceovers for
the lad's thoughts.
Will the old lady get up? Will the woman get her job back? Will the boy find his dog? Not all these questions are answered, nor are we given any real reason for the three stories to be presented together. But we get to spend about twenty minutes in the company of each, and that may be reward enough.
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