As a student at the University of Central Lancashire, I am told on a (sort of) regular basis about how my tutors work outside the university and have their own little projects here and there. Well here is one such occasion.
The Mallory Monologues is a play written by and starring Screenwriting Course Leader Bill McCoid along with Mae Brogan, Lloyd Peters, Claire Mooney, Sarah Kennedy and Joe O’Byrne. The name of the play says it all really. It is a series of monologues each one directed at a character called Mallory, who is nowhere to be seen. The characters telling not only their story but also that of Mallory’s are a Funeral gate-crasher (I know), a gangster, Mallory’s English teacher, his mother, a hitman and his girlfriend.
It is interesting to note how the story is told. Being monologues, they are personal accounts of those around Mallory, but if you listen to the details, in the background, like subliminal messages, an overall story is told as it goes along. Almost like some films, the story begins seemingly at the very end, with a funeral, possibly Mallory’s, before going back in time and through a series of monologues talks about Mallory’s life including his younger life and supposed dealings with the mob before coming back round to the funeral again.
One thing the play did very well was comedy. I initially thought that the play was going to be overly serious, but using quick lines and styles, an element of comedy comes into the fray. Not much at the beginning mind, more on the Funeral Guests trade more than anything else. When the Gangster is on stage – mind he did look rather relaxed, wearing a pink polo shirt and denim shorts, but I suppose a Gangster can wear what they want – he talks deeply about his dealings with Mallory but is not at all funny, but that is his character.
But then the scene changes, the teacher tells his story with the occasional sleight of hand or word association that sounds natural, but then sneaks in a line that will make you laugh, then there was his funny accents when impersonating other characters. This element of comedy keeps a pace going through to the end, even when the scene changes and a note of seriousness kicks in, the spirit is still there.
When the Mother comes into it, the comedy element is that of an excited and proud parent, doing things that she thought she would never do. But then a serious note comes in at the end of her piece, bringing you down to her level. Then bring on the hitman. I enjoyed the hitman a lot; his style of acting is very serious but funny too. I keep thinking of something Stan Boardman said about Les Dawson: “He gets all the notes wrong, and that made you laugh, but tell you what, he could play a piano properly”. I think of that because, the hitman would make a joke or a pun, something you didn’t expect, but then he would be back into it, saying what he really did and not what he originally claimed he did, but his part was not all comedy, it was very serious and interesting and overall it made me think of Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s Batman, possibly a carbon copy of a performance. Then we arrived at the Girlfriend, whose comedy was in a style of someone whose persona and character made me think of the villagers from the Simon Pegg film Hot Fuzz, or even Tyler’s girlfriend in the later series of The Green Green Grass. It’s not until you give the character a real chance though, that you see another light to her and it is more about the actions she did and the things she said that were funny but there was also a trace of vulnerability about her because of who and not what she is.
Music was another useful element. The transition between each segment was provided by a great saxophone section, similarly the same tune between each piece. What I didn’t expect so much was the intro song with all the cast members, but it was quite a nice addition.
The Mallory Monologues were a great experience. As someone who does and has not attend/attended many plays, it was a really fun evening and while students at UCLan we may only see our tutors and lecturers as just that, it gave me at least another chance to see them in another light and see that they have a lot more to offer everyone than the way we normally see them (which is a lot more to offer in comparison to the folding metal chair I was sitting on).