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Review: Five From Inside

Review: Five From Inside

Review: Five From Inside cover photo on Stagedoor
Ace Scottish playwright Rona Munro, who you will know from 'The James Plays' at the Edinburgh International Festival and The National Theatre, was due to have a new play, 'Donny’s Brain', open at the Traverse earlier this month.

Like all other theatre nationwide it was cancelled, but Five from Inside (available until May 2) are a series of five monologues that Munro has written for the Donny’s Brain cast which are directed by Caitlin Skinner who is fast making a name for herself. As the Traverse say, they may be off-stage but they are on-line.

Jacob (played by Bhav Joshi with impressive intensity) is filmed outside against a wall but he’s definitely inside. He’s been sent to prison for an attack on his own little brother. Now he’s discovering what it’s like to be bullied rather than the bully. A smart playwright, and Munro is definitely that, can squeeze lot in in under 10 minutes and this neat little snippet covers a lifetime of resentment, jealousy and blame.

Bhav Joshi in Jacob.

How the past impacts on the present and bullying also loom large in Mr Bubbles in which Michael Dylan is a children’s TV presenter removing his make-up after a disastrous live on TV encounter in front of three million children with Fairy Fingling who has “gone method” and punched him in the face. Dylan and director Skinner deftly manage the mix of comedy and tragedy.

Mr Bubbles has been runner up for a BAFTA for best children’s presenter four years in a row, and clearly hasn’t got over not winning. Siobhan (Roanna Davidson, excellent) is a winner but she doesn’t feel like one. The toothbrush she designed has won a most innovative toothbrush award, but she wasn’t even invited to the ceremony. She feels over-looked at work and at this moment which should have been her triumph. But perhaps there are reasons she doesn’t get invited to the pub. It’s a few minutes that doesn’t just get you inside Siobhan’s head but right inside her mouth.

Roanna Davidson in Siobhan.

If Siobhan is sharp on the way small sleights become magnified and take root, then Fern—performed with relish by Lauren Grace and filmed in a way that gives it a greater sense of being off-kilter—is an intense glimpse into the mind of a woman who cannot escape the anxieties inside her head enough to even leave the room. A box of crayons are both a potential tool to manage anxiety but the sky blue and the earthy red are no match for the perceived threat of an unwanted flatmate outside the door. Fern gives voice to the mental health difficulties many face in lockdown, the fear we might never get out of the room but seek safety in the box.

I definitely wanted to know more about Clemmy who, in Suzanne Magowan’s heart-felt touching performance, is an ordinary mum with an extraordinary secret. She’s folding the washing as she rehearses what she might one day have to say to her beloved daughter Poppy. It’s cleverly constructed so that Clemmy holds your sympathy despite the enormity of what she’s done, and it raises itchy questions about motherhood and inheritance. “All she ever gave you was your bonny black hair; I’m the one who made it shine.” She loves Poppy with a passion but she has also robbed her.

Suzanne Magowan in Clemmy.

You can watch each monologue from Five From Inside here.

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Written by

Lyn Gardner

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