Sunday, 12 April 2020
THEATRE REVIEW: Zarabooshka by Philip Ridley - online live streaming
This evening saw the second installment of 'The Beast Will Rise'; a set of original monologues written by Philip Ridley and streamed live by members of the cast of the world premiere play 'The Beast Of Blue Yonder' which sadly never did get its world premiere due to the Coronavirus. Instead, each week Ridley, Tramp, and the Southwark Playhouse are producing a world premiere monologue. This week it was the turn of Grace Hogg-Robinson, and her offering, Zarabooshka.
This was a shorter piece than last week, lasting just 10 minutes, and here we are taken into a strange and perhaps future world where our protagonist has gone to live in the town / place called Zarabooshka. She has worked hard and saved up to be able to have the chance of living there, it's a beautiful, idyllic place, and her house is on a hill overlooking the coast. She can watch the seagulls from here, she likes that, because they are free, no-one tells them what to do.
On the surface, this is just a very 'sweet' monologue, and (until the very end at least) spoken by a less capable actress or not had as good direction (by Wiebke Green), that is exactly what it would have been. Not here, right from the start we know that something was amiss. The extreme close-ups, the whispers, the conspiratorial approach, as well as a constant nervousness as if someone else may be watching or listening to what she is doing in a kind of 'Big Brother' way.
This short monologue also poses more questions than it answers. Why is she so young, or at least young looking? [I believe Hogg-Robinson is 19, but her playing age is, judging by this, somewhat younger] - and yet she has lived a long life and worked hard all her life to afford the luxury that Zarabooshka affords. Why did she deem it necessary to 'get rid' of her pet cat for her friend (also her work colleague) Melissa, to be able to use this house too? and why was her friend even using the house? And exactly who enters or what happens to make the end so abrupt?! Quite unnerving. - and yes, it is meant to be. Ridley, even in a ten-minute online monologue, is still the master of suspense.
Reviewer - Chris Benchley
on - 11/4/20