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Review: Mam, Dad, Monkey And Me; and Patricia Quinn Saved My Life, The Round, Newcastle

IF Alison Carr wanted to show her writing mettle in one fell swoop, then this double bill was certainly the way to do it.

IF Alison Carr wanted to show her writing mettle in one fell swoop, then this double bill was certainly the way to do it.

It would be hard to find two more diverse plays than these 35-minute comedy dramas from the young North East playwright.

The first, which won an award last year, is set in the ubiquitous Italian restaurant where a family gathers to celebrate the father’s birthday. Carr herself takes one of the three main parts – if you don’t count monkey – proving she’s quite an actress too, in her role as student daughter Jess who comes home to find her place in the family usurped by a toy monkey.

Sounds mad? It is, but it’s also very funny as with we look with a horrified Jess at photos of monkey enjoying trips out and even sleeping in her bed. Easy- going dad (Steve Hawksby) has hardly devoured his breadstick (which got laughs in itself) before resentments bubble over with Jess and fearsome mother (Karen Elliott) as disturbing truths and character revelations coming to light before they’ve even ordered their pasta – no mean feat in 35 minutes.

If that was well-paced, the second play – making its regional debut – legs it into the realms of the bizarre. Patricia Quinn apparently is the actress playing Magenta in 1975 film The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

We met three of them, all playing a different stage in her life. While they give us a whistle-stop Rocky introduction, it helps if you know the cult film or its stage show.

Carr’s play sees two fans at a Rocky Horror convention locked in a cupboard. The strangers end up sharing problems and dreams, as the Quinn trio hovers in the back- ground like a glammed-up Greek chorus. And the elder Quinn does prove a life-saver in an awkward moment with a half-chewed sausage. Even if this isn’t quite your thing, you can still enjoy the ride. Saturday’s plays were both well-cast, refreshingly quirky and original, and who knows what the humorous Ms Carr might think up next. Watch this space.

Barbara Hodgson

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