Form overshadows content in this contemporary monologue
This article is from 2016.
Despite a strong performance from Maddie Rice, Martin Murphy's monologue – which alludes to the notorious Baby P case – is a generic and meandering example of the solo show. Cutting the narrative into non-chronological chunks, and ending with a predictable shock, the script gets lost in the details of the protagonist's life, leaving the potentially rich storyline without drama or development.
A woman finds herself the victim of tabloid attention, and Murphy's script attempts to tell her side of the story. Rice paces and emotes furiously, her character recalling her past, her desire to do right and a previous life in sales. With large chunks of the narrative devoted to her time working for a dishonest phone company, and her consequent alcoholism and sexual immaturity explored at length, Villain never gets to grips with the horror of the case. Ultimately, the character development is irrelevant to the final reveal.
The fragmented structure, jumping through time and place, lends an atmosphere of anxiety, and Rice brings vivacity, paranoia and naivety to her part. The transfer to an alternative venue (from Underbelly's Delhi Belly to the Med Quad) may have undermined the setting, but the script's weakness remains a lack of focus.
Underbellly Med Quad, run ended.