Bedlam Theatre, Edinburgh
It’s Hallowe’en, but we’ve already done the spooky stuff. We carved our Jack O’Lantern days ago (the pumpkin soup is just a memory now), and we saw Dracula at the King’s last night. So tonight we eschew the Cameo’s Rocky Horror costume party, and head instead to Bedlam, where a series of monologues awaits.
Writer/director Sally MacAlister might still be a student (she’s in her third year here at Edinburgh), but her scripts are lively and assured. They’re original and sprightly, funny and sad. We’re impressed: this young playwright clearly has a bright future ahead.
The play comprises five unlinked twenty-minute monologues: there’s a foetus gleaning all she can about her mother and the outside world; a sex worker contemplating her future; a drag queen facing Christmas without his children; a tough kid refusing to accept her ‘victim’ label; a middle-aged woman raging against her dwindling sex appeal. They’re varied pieces, both in content and tone, and we’re intrigued by every one.
The Foetus is the quirkiest piece, a whimsical idea played with charm and vivacity by Julia Weingartner, and The Drag Queen (Myles Westman) the saddest, a tale of hidden truths, infused with gentle melancholy. The Camera Girl is outrageous and funny, with Megan Lambie’s bold, engaging performance really drawing out the laughs. There’s some interesting direction in this piece too: I like the use of Liam Bradbury as the banker, mirroring the girl’s movements as she tells the story of their disastrous date.
Perhaps the least credible is The Cougar: Kelechi Hafstad can clearly act and conveys the character’s emotions well, but she’s much too young for the part, and the writing here is less convincing too: I don’t think a fifty-eight year old would describe herself as ‘elderly’ nor compare herself to Helen Mirren (who’s fifteen years older, at seventy-three). Still, there are some lovely ideas in the script, and the delivery is witty.
My favourite is The Victim, a raw account of a teenage girl drawn into a cycle of rape and abuse. Tilly Botsford’s performance is mesmerising, and she really knows how to work a pause (the silence after the innocuous line, ‘She fell off a horse’ is the most powerful moment of the night).
All in all, She Can’t Half Talk is an impressive piece, and Sally MacAlister is clearly a name to watch out for.
Take a blanket and a hot drink though. Bedlam Theatre is really cold.