Ginger Hibiscus | The Me Plays Review at The Old Red Lion Theatre by Ginger Hibiscus
Review by Ginger Hibiscus of The Me Plays by Andrew Maddock at The Old Red Lion Theatre Ginger Hibiscus
The Me Plays Review at The Old Red Lion Theatre Ginger Hibiscus
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07 Sep REVIEW: The Me Plays at the Old Red Lion Theatre

Andrew Maddock’s eloquent perspective on growing up in Wembley, is a fabulous fusion of performance and poetry. A pair of soliloquies both written and delivered by Maddock, The Me Plays put us into the mind of “Me,” someone very much like, but not exactly, Maddock himself. We pick him up as he’s experiencing two very different challenges. The challenge of finding a relationship with the real world, helped (and hindered) by the advent of the internet. And the challenge of facing potentially serious illness.

“The challenge of facing potentially serious illness,” doesn’t feel like particularly fertile ground for humour, but The Me Plays are punctuated with laughs, in much the same way as our lives are punctuated with mobile phone alerts. These alerts are like another character in the first of the plays, “Junkie,” as they make demands of Me, forcing him into action. It’s through his phone, or more specifically through swiping right on Tinder, that Me ends up in Topman, reprimanding teenagers for their Porn Hub habits whilst lamenting his appearance in a red-jumper-over-black-shirt ensemble. But the jumper is swapped for a hospital gown in, “Hi Life, I Win,” as the focus moves away from technology and firmly onto religion, with Me looking back on his days of being trapped in a, “Jesus based prison,” (read: Catholic school), as he anxiously awaits the results of a biopsy.

It does seem a slightly peculiar set up, having an, “interval,” at the exact moment that feels like it should be an, “end,” but it just felt a bit like getting a second dessert. Imagine you have a lovely apple pie, that you savour until the final crumb. You come back later and there’s a passionfruit souffle in it’s place. Absolutely gorgeous, yet totally different, and clearly not intended for one to be appended to the other.

With cultural references galore, Me discusses male body image, the abandonment of faith, and Gladiators. Fair warning: there’s a lot about Gladiators. And quite right too; there’s not a whole lot more important to this teenage boy than Gladiators, an Eisenegger puffa jacket or Doctor Dre! It’s something that divides the audience, into those who relate to the references, and those who don’t. Those who don’t might sit bewildered as Maddock recounts late night MSN Messenger conversations with his mates; but it sparks a little memory flame for those who do, as Maddock articulately, yet witheringly, presents us with the utter absurdity of it.

Maddock’s performance of his own writing is outstanding. A talented poet, he knows the intention behind every word and gives us perfect intonation, with brilliant timing and apt expression. It’s an amazing thing to be able to stand on a stage, alone, looking out at a darkened sea of faces and have the nerve to just perform, alone. For a full length show. Between himself and the set, which is eloquently straightforward, there is always more than enough happening that we don’t leave thinking, “ooh I wish there were more people in that show,” but rather, “woah, that’s one multi-faceted human being.”

It’s tremendously brave creating a piece like this, that shows some of the good, the bad and the ugly of yourself. Not just to write it, but to perform it and, quite literally have the success of the show ride on you. The Me Plays are brutally honest about schoolday misdemeanours, about unsavoury incidents and emotional journeys, and they expose Maddock in front of the general public with an objectivity you’d never find on Facebook or Tinder. And you know what? I think I’d like him.

For tickets and information:

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here