Monster is a thrilling one man play written and performed by Joe Sellman-Leava and brought to the Fringe by acclaimed Worklight Theatre, following their success last year at the festival. This semi-autobiographical piece is introduced to the audience under the pretext that some of the story is true, and some of it isn’t and Sellman-Leava isn’t going to tell you which is which.
The protagonist, Joe, is in a play about the aggressive works of Shakespeare. After getting a little too deep into his research, he finds disturbing tendencies begin to rise to the surface. Monster tackles issues of domestic violence, the notion of masculinity, and explores what turns men violent and whether or not this characteristic is innate.
Joe is eager to please his sexist director and so becomes enthralled in research of violent men, whose testimonies we hear in striking clarity. We hear about this topical issue from many sides: from that of Joe himself and his girlfriend, the convicted rapist and notoriously violent boxer Mike Tyson, and also from someone who has experienced growing up around violent men, Sir Patrick Stewart.
Sellman-Leava portrays many characters within this play and does well to keep them clearly defined; the play is neat in this aspect and cleverly allows us to see this issue from different angles. Sellman-Leava is quick to reminds us that many aspects of Monster are true and many aren’t, which sadly implies to us that he himself may be one of these men, or ‘monsters’ as he puts it. This play is striking in its exploration of an important issue, and succeeds in putting across an important message.
Words: Katie Mckenzie
Monster, Pleasance Courtyard, Aug 10-28 (not 16), 3.15pm