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 The Theatreguide.London Review


Eight
Trafalgar Studios Summer 2009

Ella Hickson's script consists of eight fifteen-minute monologues, only four of which are performed on any given night. (The selection is based on audience voting in the lobby, though I suppose they could do any four they wanted, with us none the wiser.) So you might very well see the four sketches I didn't see, or some other combination from the eight.

Based on the four I saw - Bobby, Jude, Astrid, and Andre - the recurring theme is of potentially positive experiences turning sour, leaving the speaker worse off than before.

A poor single mother encounters a gracious and generous rich woman, but can't see past the inequity in their conditions. A lad with a crush on an older woman learns that reality can't live up to fantasy.

An adulteress discovers that betrayal is no victory when the man being betrayed doesn't notice. And a gay art dealer realises that the mask of flamboyant camp he assumed for business purposes may have destroyed his more private and conservative lover.

We're very much in Alan Bennett territory here, with small people experiencing small epiphanies or self-exposures. Allowing for the fact that Bennett's Talking Heads are three to four times as long as Hickson's monologues and thus considerably more textured and complex, she does succeed in creating a brief glimpse of reality and in telling a small story in each one.

Since the whole show lasts just an hour, there is no reason why all eight monologues couldn't be done in one evening, except that that might expose the thinness and thematic repetitiveness of the material.

As it stands, Eight works primarily as a series of audition pieces and showcases for the attractive young cast, who can only hope that they will be performing on the night someone important is out front.

Ella Hickson has demonstrated that she can write character sketches - it remains to be seen (She has a new work premiering at the Edinburgh Fringe in August) whether she can write a play.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Eight - Trafalgar 2009