Written and Directed by Ludo Cinelli
Produced by Sam Arrowsmith
Ludo Cinelli, the playwright-come-director brought to life his first play in a very simple fashion. Set in an almost empty stage, The King of Monte Cristo is a comedy following a stressed director, obnoxious playwright and four stereotypical ‘actors’ as they attempt to find their feet with a new play. The metatheatrical storyline, reminiscent of a modern day ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’ by Luigi Pirandello, was so close to hitting the mark, I left the performance completely unsure how to review it; however, here goes.
The play starts with the introduction of the Director (Keiran Hayes) and the Playwright (Tom Lofkin) arguing over ownership of the play: the one who writes it or the one who puts it on its feet. Four more characters then filter in, embodying the cliché actor types; the dumb pantomime actress, the overlooked and ignored actress, the stuck-up polo-neck wearing actor and the big American film star. And that was pretty much it, although the play contained several arguments, entrances, exits, shouting, snide comments, more shouting and more snide comments. The progression of the story seemed stunted by the unchanging and one-sided characters. The actors however, on the most part, did what they could with their characters, most notably Danny Hetherington and Georgie Thomas. Both Danny and Georgie managed to find the human sides to their characters, keeping the comedy alive without going over the top.
Now, perhaps I am missing the point. However, even after reading the Director’s comment in the programme and considering his idea of this play being about “the bickering voices running around in your head whenever you’re trying to be creative.” I am not convinced. As a new writer, I applaud Ludo for this play. It had everything within it to become something truly remarkable; sadly it perhaps needed to be redrafted just once more. I implore that Cinelli continues writing, whether working on this play or on something completely new, and I look forward to seeing his future work.