Kate O’Flynn excels in a virtuosic performance of Alistair McDowall’s monologue all of it at the Royal Court
Ahead of their collaboration on The Glow this summer and following on from 2016’s X, writer Alistair McDowall and director Vicky Featherstone’s fruitful relationship continues with all of it, a 45 minute monologue tucked away into a 9.30pm slot and a run of just 8 performances at the Royal Court (along with an advisory note that you can’t take drinks in – whether to stop the drunkenness or noise of glasses being knocked over, it’s a welcome decision!).
Also welcome is the casting of the rather marvellous Kate O’Flynn, an actress for whom the question is always ‘when are we going’ rather than ‘what is she in’. She doesn’t disappoint here in this short play, deceptively unassuming as it follows a woman through the journey of her entire life but with the fast forward button pressed. And the cassette player analogy (ask your dad) is particularly apt given the almost-gibberish with which the show opens.
The effect is something like Beckett except good, as with the rapid progression of the timeline, it isn’t long before we clock what is happening and there’s a shift into something increasingly intelligible. That’s not to say that the text simplifies, as McDowall is clearly having fun experimenting with the way language works with this stream-of-consciousness, picking up on the thoughts we can’t ever shift from the back of our minds, whether dread-filled, drudgery-bemoaning or pure orgasmic delight.
And O’Flynn excels in a singular virtuosic performance that hooks you in from its opening syllables and never lets go as it ebbs and flows in its constantly moving nature. Not moving from her chair or the glow of Anna Watson’s spotlight, she inhabits all of all of it with real humour and pathos, reminding us that what is so often described as ordinary is no less real or dramatic in the living of it. Worth staying up late for.