Harold Pinter’s little known 1973 play Monologue gets a complete makeover from director Polly Goss, who takes most of the Pinter out of it and creates a multimedia experience.
In the play - ‘man’ played here by Laurence Williams, addresses a friend who isn’t there and who in this production appears to be in the urn on the table. He looks back at their friendship, and talks about a black woman who was loved by them both.
Williams gives a good performance and creates a sympathetic and likeable character, but ultimately the story does not come from the words he says but the videos that are interspersed throughout.
Goss sets the play in 1980s Thatcherite Moss-side, ignoring London references to the Balls Pond road and Notting Hill, and she achieves this setting with a series of videos that serve as Man’s memories. We see Man, his friend (Louis Redley) and the ebony lady (Tina Isinnkaye) hanging out together in a pub, and we see his friend visiting the ebony lady who is clearly ill. The video footage is played complete with a reggae soundtrack at various points of the monologue, and adds another fifteen minutes to what is probably only a half hour play.
The videos are skilfully done with some good supporting performances. There are some good effects, such as the lovely moment at the beginning when Williams enters with a mop as a video of him mopping up the pub plays in the background. However, instead of complementing the script, the multimedia elements ultimately retract from Pinter’s words.