It's over 15 hours since we saw The Me Plays — a double bill of monologues, written and performed by Andrew Maddock — and we're still metaphorically bandaging one or two emotional wounds from what's a funny, intimate and brutally honest account of modern life.
The first monologue, Junkie (though in its rhythms and urgency it's more like a spoken word performance. Not sure what we mean by that? Let us recommend the performance poets of Aisle 16 and their monthly night Homework), starts off with laddish banter about Tinder and Topman and then delves down into the depths of internet porn, before breaking apart on a surge of digitally-induced isolation, crushed hearts and the compulsion to just keep clicking. It's raw and unfiltered — parallels with internet porn again — and left us reeling in the direction of the bar at the interval.
The second piece, Hi Life, I Win, doesn't carry quite the same punch as Junkie, perhaps because it's laced through with nostalgic regret for a damaged youth and fear for a life possibly about to be cut short (rather than the immediacy of Junkie's life being lived right now). Maddock's Me is in hospital scrubs as he waits for a biopsy, piecing together the tearaway turns of his teenage years. It's poignant, but we prefer the emotional whack of the first half.
Simple set design and direction, in the small and confined space of the Old Red Lion, allows Maddock to literally take centre stage and demonstrate a talent for poetic characterisation. One to keep an eye on, we think.
The Me Plays is on at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, EC1, until 20 September. Tickets £12/£10. We saw this production on a complimentary press ticket.