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Monks

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
3 stars
St Patrick’s Night was a queerly appropriate evening for Des Dillon’s new comedy. Its broad swipes against some of the Catholic church’s excesses were somehow in keeping with all the fake blarney going on elsewhere. As was too the self-help platitudes spouted by the assorted worshippers who convene on an Italian hilltop in search of redemption, and find only a monk doing penance but possessed with strange healing hands.

Posh Suzanne has already been saved by Fabian by the time Glasgow chancers Pat and Davy arrive with shell-shocked Jay in tow. With a money-grabbing Abbot calling the shots from below and a muscle-bound landowner out for revenge, it’s a pilgrimage to die for. Especially when the chapel they’ve built to replace the burnt-down monastery appears to turn into a celestial Tardis.

There’s nothing wrong with Dillon’s unabashed TV-friendly populism. Marie Jones tapped into a similar vein with the far superior Women On the Verge Of HRT, which went on a similar but far less obvious pilgrimage. But in Mark Thomson’s production, Monks’ mix of Glasgow Zen and west coast machismo can’t decide if it wants to be big and clever or an end of the pier romp. Its resultant philosophy, whereby every conversation is finished with a punchline, sits awkwardly on Becky Minto’s mountain-top set.

Threads of the story are shoe-horned in, with Paul Thomas Hickey’s flashbacks to some terrorist atrocity he may have been involved in being the awkward pivot on which the rest of the action hangs. While Dillon’s scatological cartoon-like approach might sit well with other easy on the eye prime time comic drama, its rendering of flawed archetypes feels too self-conscious for theatre in a play where no-one is saved.

The Herald, March 19th 2007

ends

Comments

Charlie Endell said…
Delightfully erudite and occasionally effete but had been hoping for a little bit of this...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3fAzQzgeSc
Neil Cooper said…
Sorry to disappoint, Charlie, but Oh, How To Do Now indeed!

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