A Fistful of Mondays

August 9, 2018 | By | Reply More

★★★★☆   Yee-ha!

Saughtonhall United Reformed Church (Venue 11): Mon 6–Sat 11 Aug 2018
Review by Hugh Simpson

Low-key but satisfying, Saughtonhall Drama Group’s A Fistful of Mondays is attractively humorous.

There is certainly a version of Joe Graham’s bittersweet feelgood show, about a Monday night line dancing class in a struggling social club, that has songs. But it is better off without them; indeed, it is refreshing to see a play about line dancing that isn’t a jukebox musical.

Candice Sullivan, Betty Meston, David Hastie and Judith Petrie. Pic Sarah Howley A Fistful of Mondays Saughtonhall Drama

Candice Sullivan, Betty Meston, David Hastie and Judith Petrie. Pic Sarah Howley

The group of misfits who make up the dancing class have very little in the way of character development, but are enticingly played. Scott Kerr’s western-obsessed Graham (who likes to be called Clint on Mondays), David Hastie’s tap-dancing Duncan, Judith Petrie’s frustrated Sophie, and Candice Sullivan’s two-left-footed Carol are all given more realism than the characters should really possess, while Betty Meston’s Mary, seemingly on another planet, is a winningly odd characterisation.

This disparate bunch are really the sideshow to a faltering romance between their instructor Annie and bitter divorce Tom Jones (not that one). Chris Mitchell’s poise and presence compensate for a frighteningly underwritten role, while John Webster gives Tom an endearingly crumpled air, as well as some tremendously played comic elements.



Webster is helped enormously by his sidekicks, Barry the barman (Colin Mitchell) and cynical long-time friend Graham (Murray Petrie). There is one monologue spoken by Webster, believing himself to be alone alone, where Mitchell’s facial reactions add greatly to the comedy.

This is just one of the moments of quietly effective direction by Elizabeth Wilson. The pace is relaxed but never slow, and there is a genuine ensemble feel to proceedings. A comedy ‘shootout’ at the beginning of the second half is beautifully timed, while some potentially awkward transitions between acting areas are deftly handled.

realism

Elizabeth and Keith Wilson’s set is a hyper-realistic club bar, down to the notice board and ‘amusing’ chalk board notices. This level of realism does, however, make you notice other things that are not quite as careful – no wonder Barry is losing custom when he serves drinks that are suspiciously clear, or attempts to serve the same half-finished glasses he has prematurely collected.

That is a minor quibble with a production that, despite the odd ‘grown up’ joke, is basically a sweet, warm-hearted story that will leave its audiences with a satisfied glow.

Running time 2 hours 15 minutes including one interval
Saughtonhall United Reformed Church (Venue 273), 87 Saughtonhall Drive, EH12 5TR
Monday 6 – Saturday 11 August 2018
Daily at 7.30 pm
Matinee Saturday at 2.30 pm
Book tickets on the Fringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/fistful-of-mondays
Company website: http://saughtonhall.com/dramagroup.html
Facebook: @saughtonhalldramagroup.

ENDS

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