Something quite remarkable happened during this performance of tutti frutti ‘s latest production, Monday's Child, my three year old daughter sat perfectly still from beginning to end. She didn’t fidget, she didn’t kick the chair in front of her and she didn’t ask for sweets or to go to the toilet. Not a peep. I repeatedly checked to make sure she hadn’t nodded off but, no, she was just completely captivated by the performance in front of her.
Previous tutti frutti collaborator Brendan Murray has written a seemingly simple two-hander about a forgetful old lady visiting her five year old granddaughter for an afternoon of play.
However, to the adult eye, it is clear that the woman is showing the signs of Alzheimer’s and is frequently confused and agitated by not remembering where she is or what she is looking for. Of course, the young girl is unable to comprehend this and interacts with her Grandmother with all the naivety and love one would expect from a child; all she wants to do is play and have fun.
What evolves is a beautiful story about friendship between two people at either end of the life cycle (highlighting both the differences and the striking similarities) and of the significance of memories – be it keeping them, making them or sharing them.
Erika Poole (Woman) and Josie Cerise (Girl) are excellent; their relationship maintains credibility throughout. Both resist any temptation to over-play and instead bring out the nuance and subtlety in the thoughtful script.
Similarly, Murray’s script and Wendy Harris‘ direction never fall back on sentimentality or mawkishness. The depiction of the couples’ play together employs no gimmicks or archness. All involved clearly have complete faith in the honesty and truthfulness of the material.
Consequently, what results is a piece that manages to capture the innocence and simple joy of play but still addresses some much more profound questions about life in a deeply moving and poetic way.
Monday’s Child plays morning and afternoon performances at York Theatre Royal Studio from 22-26 April, returning on 10 June. As well as some closed performances in schools, some in this area, tutti frutti’s tour includes the following:
1 May – Otley Courthouse
23-24 May – Howard Assembly Room, Grand Theatre, Leeds
15 June – Barnsley Civic