Infinity Stage Company’s production of ‘Monkey Bars’ proves to be the antidote to Rosie Solomon’s post-university-life worries
For me, coming to the end of my three years at university is an incredibly nostalgic experience. I have spent my time at Birmingham getting involved in pretty much as many extracurricular activities as I could justify doing, spending more time at the Guild than my own home during show weeks. In recent months, I have spent less time on these projects and more time worrying about exams and dissertations and finding a job and a house for next year and preparing to move into the real world, into adulthood life. Fear of the future was beginning to set in. I was dreading the year to come and all the trials it would bring when I eventually left behind the safety net of formal education. Mia Jacob’s ingenious production of Chris Goode’s Monkey Bars was the perfect antidote to this.
This one act comedy comprises entirely of the verbatim words of children, who were interviewed for the production and then the lines manipulated into adult situations with adults speaking the lines. Adults playing adults, but using the words of children. For example, the words of children discussing their dreams, nightmares and boasting about how late they’re allowed to stay up was transposed into a date scene, with actors Katy Owens and Keiran Hayes flirting over a dinner table whilst discussing monsters chasing after them in their sleep. A conversation with girls about boys and with boys about girls takes place in two opposing toilets at a night club, with the juxtaposition between language and setting creating an atmosphere of nostalgia and a longing to return to the lost world of childhood.
The Rosa Parks room of the Guild was transformed into a playground of office equipment over the weekend, with all the actors dressed in work clothing and playing amongst the stationary as if it were an adventure playground for children set in an office block. Jacob’s creativity shone through in every vignette of child and adulthood life during the hour and a half I spent there, with each of the verbatim conversations placed into a different adulthood scenario and carried out with care and precision by the whole of the cast.
Never during a show at the Guild have I been moved to laugh, to cry, to ‘awww’ as often as this production prompted me to. Never have I been so entirely transfixed by the physicality of actors, switching with ease between adult and child motions during the scenes and the interludes between them. I left the Rosa Parks room feeling like my three years of Guild Drama had come to a bittersweet and appropriate end with this wistfully sweet production. Never before have I felt so sorry for those who were not able to see it.
This production was so beautifully done, with care taken to devise each movement and emotion put behind each of the words. It is one of very few theatre productions to actually move me to tears. A massive congratulations to everyone involved.