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Park Theatre                  

5.0Reviewer's rating

Monster covers a really tough and difficult topic and does so with enormous humanity and real depth. It views a tragic and evil act through the lens of both perpetrator and victims and never ever loses sight of the depth of good and bad in both. I was deeply impressed particularly by the writing and the lead performance (and even more so when I realised these were by the same person – Abigail Hood).

Monster is written with incredible depth and clarity. The two-hour performance sped by and as such was captivating from start to finish. My attention never strayed any my credulity was never stretched. The sketches we were given of each character revealed a richness of depth. The storyline skipped from moment to moment and year to year coherently and clearly. The nasty was inevitable but still shocking. The redemptive path was real and never saccharine.

Abigail Hood is mesmerising as the lead character Kayleigh Grey. At first, she seems irrepressible but that spirit soon turns against her own interests when her pain and rage are indeed unrepressed with evil and tragic consequences. Hood never flinches in her performance either from Grey’s fragility and vulnerability or from her culpability.

Hood was utterly believable throughout the performance. She is subtle when a lesser actor might not have been and as such added enormous depth and understanding to a complex role. I never felt patronised or spoonfed by the performance and was frequently surprised and shocked – in a good way – by where it went.

She was, in a word, spellbinding.

But while all eyes were on Hood, credit should also be given to the supporting cast, and in particular to Caitlin Fielding who managed to stand out in her quiet realism in a deliberately non-standout role – a trick that was hard to pull off but that she does with aplomb. Emma Keele as the well-meaning teacher of the first half – and a much darker role in the second – was also utterly believable even as we saw her character plumb depths of despair that no one should ever know.

I had a few very minor quibbles – in particular with the character of Hazel whose religiosity was an additional seam that didn’t need to be mined and there was some weird fussing with a rug that baffled both myself and my companion. However, these were really exceptions that simply proved the quality of the rest of the production and in particular the writing.

This is a whole, complete, and truly assured play from a voice I am really excited to hear more from.

  • Drama
  • Written by Abigail Hood
  • Directed by Kevin Tomlinson
  • Cast: Abigail Hood, Caitlin Fielding, Emma Keele, Gillian Kirkpatrick, Kevin Tomlinson & Kevin Wathen.
  • Park Theatre                  
  • Running time: 2 hours (inc interval)
  • Until: 20 August 2022

About The Author

Editorial team and reviewer (UK)

Emma Burnell is a freelance journalist writing about politics and theatre. She has her own blog on immersive theatre ( Emma recently completed an MA in Journalism and has worked in communications for think tanks and pressure groups for fifteen years.

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