A piercing new play has emerged at Park Theatre- a venue known for consistently bringing quality fresh theatre to the stage. Written by and starring Abigail Hood, Monster tackles the long-term effects of child abuse, mixed in with class and identity struggles in a gripping depiction of the whirlwind lives faced by Kayleigh (played faultlessly by Abi Hood) and Zoe (also commendably acted by Caitlin Fielding).
Escaping the chaos of life by hanging around an abandoned playground by the pipes, the pair of girls spend their after school hours conjuring up plans to run away to the Isle of Muck, fantasising and flirting, between woven chats about troubles at school, and brief mentions of difficulties at home. Yet despite everything, they are bound together, through whatever messiness comes their way. Suspecting the issues with Kayleigh's reckless behaviours that keep causing her to be expelled are deeper than they outwardly seem, her teacher, Miss Hastie (Emma Keele) becomes hooked on trying to better the situation, which ultimately leads to the unexpected darkest of all days to dawn upon them all.
Each member of the cast (which also includes Kevin Wathen as Steve Hastie, and Kevin Tomlinson as John Parker) present skilful acting when becoming their characters. Hazel Grey- Kayleigh's despicable mother, played by Gillian Kirkpatrick- has the chilling demeanour of an abuser with her manipulative intentions, which raises questions about whether it is possible to break the cycle and become a different person to the one who failed to nurture her through upbringing.
Powerfully engaging throughout, the performance is heavy with emotion as each twist brings something new to consider. The excellent script applies relevant subjects to characters worth investing in as their depth is explored. Act one doesn't hold a single slow moment, as witty conversations bats back and forth while audiences are thrown further into the dramatics. To contrast, a set change at the interval poses for a calmer second act, where the shift from 2006 Glasgow, to nearer present day reveals the repercussions of previous events that come to fruition across desperately harrowing scenes. Additionally, this opens discussion on the morality of the past, and whether it must define the future, however horrific those choices were.
Directed by Kevin Tomlinson, this show takes you on an immense rollercoaster of feeling, while presenting a dark narrative that in all can appear abstract, but elements are tragically happening around us. Monster is truly an unforgettable piece of theatre, and plays like this don't come around often- one not to be missed.