Monolaughs, a show brought to us by ADC Online, is a series of comedic monologues, each one filmed from inside the performer’s home.
The theme which seemed to hold Monolaughs together was the way monologues can both amuse and unnerve. There was most obvious in Jonathan Neary’s ‘A Talented Murder’ and Amy Lever’s ‘Journo Journal’, both of which explored their criminal characters’ pasts in impressive depth for one monologue. However, I found Gregory Miller’s ‘THE PEEPER’ took this unnerving quality to the extreme, featuring the thoughts of a ‘peeping Tom’ as he watches a neighbour across the street doing the hoovering in her dressing gown. Particularly impressive was his ability to hold the audience’s attention in a monologue with so little movement; this can be attributed to his fantastic character building and the menacing music he chose to accompany the piece.
This show was also not afraid to use the feeling of having someone stare at you for a very long time: Sophie Stemmons, after a revealing conversation over the phone with her character’s grandmother, then stared straight at the camera for a full fifteen seconds. The discomfort of this moment was only heightened by the start of Alex Lindsay’s monologue, which was just watching her drink water for another five seconds. I was particularly shocked by her starting line, ‘I am so excited to have this performance review’ – was she talking to me? (No).
Some highlights among the acts came towards the end, with Abraham Alsawaf’s ‘Inspector Mason is on the Case(on)’, with a great satire of Sherlock Holmes-esque detective deduction from a single 20-pence piece, and Clancy Peiris Jr.’s ‘Alone, and Misreading Love’, in which he played a teenager suffering from an inability to recognise his obsessive behaviour and his love’s lack of interest in him. The monologue was set to romantic restaurant music, which helped set the scene of his lonely date and exacerbated the teenager’s most awkward moments.
It can’t be denied that any usually-live comedy will be affected by the lack of an audience to build up an atmosphere. However, Monolaughs also used the new digital medium in exciting and creative ways. Hattie Clark, in her ‘The Classic FM Top 300’ used video editing to skip through a whole weekend of radio listening, while Lever created an increasingly menacing montage of her character’s activities. In this way, Monolaughs goes beyond just being good ‘considering the circumstances’; their monologues were quirky and inventive and funny regardless of where they were filmed.
It was a treat to watch this show and discover what the Cambridge comics have been up to. The setting may have changed, but the creativity and energy behind the performances have not.