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Review: The Beast Will Rise

Review: The Beast Will Rise

Review: The Beast Will Rise cover photo on Stagedoor
I’m constantly on the edge of throwing my hands in the air and saying that I never want to see another online monologue in my life. Then a show comes along to change my mind.

Philip Ridley’s Gators is one such show, part of a series of monologues produced by Tramp Theatre who were supposed to be premiering Ridley’s The Beast of Blue Yonder at Southwark Playhouse this spring. Instead, The Beast Will Rise is an on-going project which will eventually feature 14 original monologues by Ridley, performed by members of Blue Yonder cast, and all directed by Wiebke Green. It’s good to see Tramp recognising that online work needs to be accessible too: all shows have subtitles available.

In Gators, Rachel Bright plays a desperately lonely woman living at some point in the near future where the climate emergency and floods has turned areas of the country into swamps. From out of the swamps come alligators who “go sweet” on humans. For a while the two managed to live side by side but then a child went missing and the uneasy truce broke down. But there are rules about the way this game of love and death is played out.

Rachel Bright in Gators.

In this world gone crazy gators throw kisses across the supermarket car-park at the humans they stalk, but one of the things that Ridley’s layered piece does is raise itchy questions around love and obsession as well as asking who is the preyed upon in this scenario. Bright more than lives up to her name as a woman who is as spurned and reviled as the gators and facing a choice about whether to live alone and isolated or embrace love in whatever form it offers itself.

Moving on in the same strand of new work, the latest to land on-line is a shaggy dog story with a nasty twist in the tale (or should I say ear) in Chihuahua which features Charlie Quirke (excellent) about an apparently ordinary young man making a casual on-line confession of a childhood act of violence while waiting for his tea. It only lasts three minutes but there is a lot swirling around here about resentment, guilt, jealousy and revenge and the neglected child who grows into a young man with wide empty eyes.

Charlie Quirke in Chihuahua.

Love, its lack and the way it is so often dismissed or abused is the overwhelming theme of the three monologues available so far. No more so than in Zarabooshka which takes its name from the imaginary village dreamed up by the girl who is barely more than a child.

She is played by Grace Hogg-Robinson with an unaffected directness living in a world where children are snatched or given by their families into abuse and servitude. They are like “blossoms that shrivel under a blow torch.” But this girl steels herself through the power of the imagination. It’s a painful watch, but one that like all of Ridley’s dark, tortured plays believes in the power of telling stories to get us through the bleakest times.

You can watch these three and follow as new monologues are released, every Saturday at 7pm, here.

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Lyn Gardner

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