Money Womb @ Theatre503

Theatre Company Velvet Trumpet are back with another show which shines a light onto London and the people within it. Money Womb is a thought-provoking comedy by Nick Smith which explores change and growth, performed by two very talented actors.

The audience are invited to listen to Peter Finch, a temp who works in the City of London, tell them about how he has come to be waiting alone in his flat on Christmas Eve, for his ex girlfriend. Beginning his story from when he and Hannah Jessop first met, the audience is taken onto a journey which begins in the Midlands and finishes in London. Performed by a combination of intertwining monologues and duologues, Peter’s story explores relationships and parenthood, and the ever-changing nature of London. The city seems like an ideal place to an outsider, but once Peter and Hannah arrive, the bagels of Brick Lane are not what they seem, putting a strain on their relationship and their expectations.

Jon Cottrell as Peter Finch; Asha Reid as Hannah Jessop

Jon Cottrell as Peter Finch; Asha Reid as Hannah Jessop

It is difficult to keep an audience captivated for such a long time, but Jon Cottrell as Peter is brilliant at drawing in and keeping everyone’s attention. He embodies the character brilliantly, balancing the comedy with the darker elements of the play perfectly. Equally, Asha Reid as Hannah is great opposite Cottrell. The change from her young, care-free character, to her older, more mature self later on in the play is very convincing. In the space of 90 minutes, the two successfully present the comedy of Smith’s writing, while also portraying the deeper thoughts he evokes.

For a play with only two people, the 90 minute length is just very slightly too long, but the two actors do well in energising the audience to keep them entertained. Overall, I think Money Womb is a very well written piece exploring life in London, and the change and fortune people hope it will bring to them, I would definitely recommend.

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Joy @ Etcetera Theatre

A nice change from all the Shakespeare shows I’ve been seeing recently brings me to Joy, a set of three hilarious monologues performed by a great team of guys, on top of a pub in the middle of Camden.

The monologues follow the three stories of each of the characters. Michael (played by Jon Cottrell) is recently divorced, which forces him to move in with his brother. In order to cheer him up, Michael’s brother throws a party, where Michael meets someone new. The weird thing? Michael’s new love is a toaster, which leads to a hilarious monologue about the pressures of love and what it truly means. Cottrell was great, and although the piece started off slow, he was able to lift it up with a sincere tone, creating an engaging and funny performance.

Joy-EtceteraFEB2015

The second monologue was by Roger, a Thames River police officer, who is giving a talk to school pupils about the role of the river police. Roger is a damaged soul, attacked on duty by a group of people on a sex boat, who mistake him for a stripper. This darkly comic story was absolutely hilarious, and superbly performed by Thomas Jones, with the help of a small puppet duck, which was one of my highlights.

My favourite out of the three was the story of Phil, the tube driver who is in charge of a Bakerloo line train. I found this one the most representative of London life, something I could relate to, travelling on the underground pretty much every single day. Phil spends all his time underground, and has come to conclude that no one actually cares about him or the announcements he makes. Simon Grujich was brilliant, balancing equally the comedy written into the script, but also the tragic elements of Phil’s life. It was a great performance.

The monologues do not feel static and separate at all, but flow brilliantly throughout the 60 minutes. I would definitely recommend Joy, especially those looking for a funny and short show to see on an evening out.  It was great fun, with just the right amount of seriousness that adds a layer of real life into the characters.