Mona & Bea
24th-28th May 7.30pm
Mona and Bea is a play about two strangers who have found that they can communicate in some way through a conveniently receptive wall of their bedrooms and right here at the very beginning is where the play gets ambitious – both the natures of the wall and the nature of their communication are ambiguous and it is arguably this ambiguity that creates the tension the play depends on. By way of a fairly basic introduction to the characters, Mona and Bea are in the middle of a painful breakup and thrilling infidelity respectively and on a literal level the play portrays the evolution of their relationship, constantly defined by an invisible wall which is at once literal, metaphorical and perhaps even imaginary.
Writer and director Tim Kiely has an ambitious plan that is well supported by a horribly interesting idea and let down by a script that leaves much to be desired. The lines very quickly get monotonous and characters are far from fleshed out though it is unclear whether this is in any way by design. From what I saw it seems as though script leaves the two actors little room for character development though Olivia Madin as Bea does a remarkable job but has little space to attempt a nuanced character. Georgia Waters as Mona is difficult and tiring to watch and far from convincing as a 20-something going through a painful breakup. Their relationship is in many ways unsettling, not least because of the erotic undertones that one can almost but never quite manage to ignore and the mirror it holds up to our own lives and intimacies.
Despite a disappointing script and less-than-gripping performances, this is still one of those rare and special plays with a lot of soul in that it addresses very real issues without facetiousness or condescension. The cast and crew are not claiming undue credit when they claim that it is a “new play about the whole tentative, giddy, slightly disturbing enterprise of getting to know someone in the 21st Century” and that the play takes on the “terrifying prospect of intimacy with another human being” and tackles it “head on”.
I watched it in a fairly intimate setting – a small room with the actors less than six feet away from me. While the BT is not nearly as bad as the playhouse in this respect, I must confess that I am worried about whether the play can hold it’s own for the full 80 minutes. Having said that, Tim Kiely is going to be responsible either for a great idea that is let down by a lacklustre script or a great idea that is salvaged despite that. And the responsibility for that lies necessarily with Mona and Bea. Watch it because the idea is honest and compelling and raises uncomfortable questions, not for the craft.