This year’s Edinburgh Napier graduates have yet again created fresh and perfect material for the Fringe. The newly-formed Capsize Collective debuts something truly unique with David Greig’s work.
The story follows our protagonist Duck (Esther Wilkes) as she balances her love life, her writing career, and caring for her father who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. Her mother died when she was young, so Duck is left to mop up piss, fill in forms, and navigate social worker drop-ins. She just wants to be normal. Despite the dark subject matter, this play has such a joyous style for such a heart-breaking story. It reminded me of my early 2000’s love for Jacqueline Wilson, bringing back the Tracy Beaker nostalgia. A creative girl’s inner dialogue comes to life in the form of fairies, monsters, a beauty and a beast. The way Duck copes is to turn her life into a story. And this is the story we see.
With Mastermind, online gaming sequences, big-tashed commentators and a ukulele, this ensemble never rests. The cast takes the primary school cop-out of ‘be a tree’, to another level. These professionals become rain, ticking clocks and even a convincing cupboard. No need for props, except for the mighty monster motor-bike. Immediately eye-catching, coloured black and red, its devil-like face lingers at the back of the stage until used excellently in a high-speed chase scene.
The intense physicality of the show allows for overlapping memories to crash into each other like waves of a violent storm. They use dizzying repetition to build up to the defining moment when Duck discovers her father is now blind. This style highlights the chaos that is Duck’s life and her stress of trying to maintain it. This mishmash of energy can result in the cast clamouring over each other to be heard. During these times of mania it is easy to miss lines and the structure becomes clumsy. But these moments are short and in capturing the madness allowed me to love the moments for breathing space.
These calm moments allow the actors to shine through. Wilkes gave a naturally endearing performance, ensuring the audience is always rooting for her. Scott Ringan was similarly charming as her Scottish biker dad, always remaining cheerful and upbeat despite his suffering. Their relationship demonstrated the frustration, fierce loyalty and love that we can all relate to.
This play proves that it’s ok to not be normal. That people can find contentment and happiness in their tough lives.
A triumph that deserves a bigger audience, you can still get tickets here:
The Monster in the Hall runs until the 24th of August – https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/monster-in-the-hall