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Review: Monogamy, at Park Theatre

Play set in a Highgate kitchen is an enjoyable romp through a class-soaked landscape

29 June, 2018 — By Catherine Usher

SET in the kitchen of a desirable house in Highgate, Janie Dee stars as a TV chef who is preparing to sell her and her husband’s property and move on to the next stage of their lives.

She’s got plenty of stumbling blocks to navigate first, such as a hunky carpenter who is complicating her love life and an unconventional publicist, who is attempting to control an embarrassing paparazzi incident.

Unfortunately, Torben Betts’s characters are swimming in stereotypes – Genevieve Gaunt’s publicist Amanda is far too Eliza Doolittle and, although he’s actually by far the most normal person there, Jack Sandle as Graeme is all tool belts and intellectual awkwardness. Vegan/gay/disillusioned/idealistic/angry son Leo (Jack Archer) couldn’t be more of a student cliche and golf-playing posho Mike (Patrick Ryecart) is practically Prince Charles with a job.

Despite this, the actors – guided by director Alastair Whatley – bring a huge amount of warmth and personality to elevate the characters to more multi-layered levels. The master at work is Dee, who captures Caroline’s contradictory personality expertly. Light-hearted yet troubled, controlled yet impulsive, warm but frosty, Dee conveys Caroline’s torment brilliantly, all the while sprinkling her circuits around her large kitchen with huge slugs from her endlessly topped up glass of wine.

There’s an unpredictability to proceedings which is very enjoyable, and Caroline’s humour in the face of continual adversity is highly entertaining. Also, her reliance on religion as a coping mechanism is an unexpected element, hilariously frustrating those around her.

Ultimately, this isn’t the type of show that’s going to break any boundaries or change the world, but it’s an enjoyable enough romp through a class-soaked, snobbery-infused landscape that we may all recognise a bit better than we care to admit.

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