PACE: although

Obscure Norse mythology and a sexually frustrated car proved a surprisingly enjoyable combination for LEYLA HAMID and CHLOE COLEMAN.

KCDC monologue student writing

King’s Bunker, 8pm 23rd-24th January, £3

A monologue showcase is not the most obviously cheering event for a grimly frosty evening in late January, and as we shivered in the decidedly hipster venue of King’s Bunker we told ourselves that the show had better be good. Thankfully, it actually was.

Pace consists of seven different monologues written and performed by the members of King’s College Drama Society. As a result, we were faced with a plethora of different styles and topics supposedly bound together by the word ‘although’. Saying this, had it not been printed conspicuously on the programme we may have been confounded as to their cohesion.

Even with this broad theme peppered throughout each performance, it came across as a bit forced. In order to embrace the potential of ‘although’ for varied thematic exploration, you had to embrace often tenuous links as well. We learnt about a whole host of things, from the art of whistling, to the sexual desire of a talking car (who was a human, by the way). Why not?

We begun with ‘Indulgence’. Won over from the start by Douglas Tawn’s impressive tweed coat, this monologue takes the form of a business pitch in which innumerable rhetorical questions are fired at us in the hope of convincing us to invest in an afterlife guarantee. So far, so weird. The idea of a pervading consumerism – conveniently emphasized by the Apple logo loudly painted on the minimalist backdrop – is one which is interspersed throughout the showcase, binding the often surrealist monologues, and rooting them in the wider socio-political context of our world.

We moved swiftly in a whole new direction with Lucinda Perrett’s exploration of the mind of a vulnerable child. Complete with fears of the dark, a treasured Donald Duck key ring and some sort of Daddy-issues, this performance had moments of striking intensity, sadly offset by a grating tendency to slip into a clichéd ‘baby-voice’. Mark Wartenberg’s ‘Odin’s Last Words to Balder’ contained arresting acting, but the monologue seemed to imply a content only accessible to aficionados of Norse mythology (we had to resort to Google).

Ellie Lavan won this for us. With flawless acting above and beyond that which is expected in student theatre, her monologue ‘Although’ made the idea of robo-boyfriends worryingly plausible, thanks to her harrowingly real portrayal of heartbreak and spinster-phobia. This feeling was echoed in the final monologue from Alys Williams, ‘There was always a measure of the impossible’. English students: be on the look-out for the subtle yet effective rhyme, cleverly woven throughout. However, an impassioned performance prevented this from slipping into the dry territory of poetry-recital.

Although originally apprehensive about the entertainment value of this KCDS monologue showcase, we were pleasantly surprised. It takes guts to go solo and demand the attention of the house, but whilst some were more successful than others, these student actors delivered generally powerful performances. If you’re not afraid to get up close and personal with something thought-provoking and slightly esoteric, this is worth a watch.