Fringe Box



Stage Dragon Review: Monogamy At The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 13 May, 2018
Updated on: 13 May, 2018

By Ferenc Hepp

This past week at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, The Original Theatre Company, Ghost Light Theatre, Dovedon Productions and Eilene Davidson presented a brand new comedy by Torben Betts, Monogamy.

Directed by Alastair Whatley, the final script was only completed in April this year, so this is literally hot off the press and Guildford is only the second venue of the UK tour.

Monogamy at the Yvonne Arnaud. Charlie Brooks as Sally. Photo credit Simon Annand.

We are in the present day and the action takes place in Caroline Mortimer’s kitchen which is the setting for her TV cooking show.

However, as she is selling the house, this is coming to an end with a new start from a studio. In a way, this is also reflected in the various characters’ lives through the piece, as we discover more and more about their lives, how they interconnect and how they may be looking for new beginnings themselves.

Genevieve Gaunt as Amanda and Janie Dee as Caroline Mortimer. Photo credit Simon Annand.

Caroline is played by Janie Dee (Comic Potential, Follies, Carousel), with the rest of the cast being made up by Jack Archer (Quaint Honour) as Leo, Charlie Brooks (EastEnders) as Sally, Genevieve Gaunt (The Royals) as Amanda, Patrick Ryecart (Poldark) as Mike and Jack Sandle (The Tudors) as Graeme.

The set is modern and impressive and representative of a modern kitchen, however, it didn’t quite fill the Arnaud stage, with a section of stage right remaining bare.

Janie Dee in Monogamy. Photo Credit Simon Annand.

The cooking show does not last long; we are soon into the thick of Caroline’s ‘real’ world, discovering the person and dramas behind the TV personality and are introduced to Amanda who works for her and her recently graduated son, Leo.

Dee does show versatility and we see her vulnerability when she is in danger of some embarrassing photos being published in the press, as well as her insecurity when trying to understand her son as they have frustrating exchanges, however, occasionally the cues are not picked up as quickly as they should and the delivery of the lines are not quite confidently executed.

We soon meet Graeme the carpenter, who Caroline seems to know extremely well, but we only discover later the real reason for this.

Sandle creates a very realistic and manly character, and Archer goes through a huge number of emotions throughout the play in a very convincing manner.

Act One ends with Leo’s line: “Who really is Caroline Mortimer?”

We do find out a lot more in Act Two, which turns more and more into a farce with mistaken identities, a sloshed and confused husband brilliantly portrayed by Ryecart with lots of very funny moments, and some physical comedy added for good measure.

We also discover who Sally is, and Brooks arguably has the most difficult task with her complex character and interaction with the others, which she executes very well.

As she states at one point: “It takes all sorts to make a world”.

We certainly see all sorts throughout the piece and experience all sorts of emotions with a rather dramatic and humorous ending.

The writer’s intention was “gathering people together in one place and making it hard for them to leave and then turning up the heat”.

I feel that he has succeeded with this, and the production is very cleverly directed by Whatley with its dramatic flames and comedy warmth which was very much appreciated by Tuesday night’s audience.

Monogamy ran up to Saturday, May 12.  Tickets for future Yvonne Arnaud productions are available via the website: or by calling the box office on 01483 440000.

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