City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Monster in the Hall Review


By Barbara Bryan - Posted on 20 August 2011

Fringe 2011: The Citz's Monsters in the Hall
4
Show details
Venue: 
Traverse Theatre
Company: 
Citizens Theatre (a TAG production)
Running time: 
90mins
Production: 
Guy Hollands (director), David Greig (writer), Amanda Gaughan (Assistant Director), Nigel Dunn and Stephen Wright (Music and Sound Design), Andrew Panton (Choreographer), Laura Smith (Production Manager), Elaine G. Coyle (Costume Design)
Performers: 
David Carlyle (Lawrence Lofthouse), Keith MacPherson (Hugh MacAtarsney), Beth Marshall (Ms Agnetha Bergholm/Mrs Linda Underhill), Gemma McElhinney (Duck MacAtarsney)

David Grieg's stripped-down, comedy musical, which is being reprised  with the original cast after its run at "The Citz" last year, is a high octane drama from beginning to end.

The four actors - two men, two women - burst onto the stage with a mic and proceed to entertain us with a story, interspersed with music à la 60's Motown songs, which revolves around teenage girl angst, her 'pash' for Lawrence who is in her drama class, and her having to cope with a parent incapacitated with MS who just wants to get on his motorbike - the Monster in the Hall - and ride like he used to before his wife died. 

Her favourite bike was a Doucette - hence the daughter's nickname Duck. A plain teenager, she dreams of being a successful writer, but fears going into care should the social worker discover her Dad is blind.

It's an innovative show. Using only individual mics and a chair as a prop, Andrew Panton's choreography is excellent for there is never a dull moment. 

Episodes in the story are related through song and the actors pace is relentless. And the acting is excellent. David Carlyle plays Lawrence Lofthouse. Gemma McElhinney is Duck Macatarsney. Keith MacPherson is Hugh MacAtarsney and Beth Marshall is Ms Agnetha Bergholm and Mrs Linda Underhill.

There is terrific humour throughout, particularly when Beth Marshall portrays a character [a brash, feminist Norwegian], in the Dad's computer game who turns up for real at their home because, in the game, he's asked her to marry him. In this scene, the simulation of computer characters by Keith MacPherson and Beth Marshall was superb, with David Carlyle and Gemma MaElhinney voicing their parts. And Beth Marshall is marvellous as she frenetically juxtaposes her character with that of the social worker. 

All in all, The Monster in the Hall, is a highly entertaining piece of theatre. 

Show times: Til 28 August, various times

Ticket prices: £6 - £17