Malvern Theatres


Starring Olivier award winning actress Janie Dee and a well-known array of TV favourites, this new comedy looked promising on paper.

Monogamy is written by playwright Torben Betts, who was behind comedy Invincible, which toured last year and the Original Theatre Company is once again bringing his work to audiences and I caught it on the opening night of the tour in Malvern.

The story revolves around a celebrity chef whose life starts to unravel in one afternoon. 

Dee plays this lead character Caroline Mortimer, who has striking similarities to Nigella Lawson, with a TV crew filming in her family kitchen. 

As the drama unfolds, it’s clear that this TV chef, however, has a host of secrets plus addictions to alcohol and religion.

Added to the mix is her unhappy son Leo and husband Mike, her wonderfully bizarre assistant Amanda and her hunky carpenter and his wife.

Although there are some funny moments, this is an extremely middle class situational comedy aimed at a more mature audience that didn’t really offer anything new. Some of the themes connected to homosexuality and religion would also seem strange or outdated to younger audiences. 

There’s the retired golf-playing banker whose son is vegan with socialist leanings and the hard done by wife finally having some fun of her own.

The script also seemed stilted with lots of silences. I got the impression these were intended rather than the cast forget Added to that the pace was pretty slow too. 

Director Alastair Whatley has a fairly strong cast of familiar faces at his command. There’s the likes of Dee, but she seemed out of kilter, fluffing some of her lines and dropping a glass that led to a pause in proceedings to clean it up. However, it was the very beginning of the tour, which could explain that.

The strongest performers were in fact Poldark star Patrick Ryecart as the husband, showing what a safe pair of hands he is on stage, and Genevieve Gaunt, from The Royals, as the emotionally unstable quirky assistant with a drug habit and all the best lines.

Charlie Brooks, known for being Janine in EastEnders, and Jack Archer as Leo also caught the eye.

Monogamy is an entertaining enough piece of theatre but it feels constrained for being a comedy aimed at an older generation in middle class, middle England. To 05-05-18

Alison Brinkworth 


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