‘Mother and the Monster’ is the debut production of the newly formed Paradigm Lab, a new theatre company founded by recent graduate of the University of Edinburgh and student theatre veteran, Vlada Nebo who also serves as director. Paradigm Lab sets out to immerse audiences through experimental techniques of production and direction. For its first show Paradigm Lab has certainly set the bar high.
Inspired by the life true story of legendary costume designer Millicent Patrick; Rory Kelly’s script follows reclusive prop maker Charlotte performed (in a slightly exaggerated style) by Amelia Watson. Watson struggles to match the quick changing emotion of the script as her character guides the naïve protégé Polly through the toils of a male dominated industry and attempts to deal with the ‘Monster’.
The play certainly fulfils its goal to be a ‘feminist fairy tale’ with the contrasting personalities of the ambitious Lucy and cloistered Charlotte both struggling to defend the integrity of their work in male dominated creative industries – the younger Polly clearly represents the younger generations resistance to the pressures of the patriarchy. Sarika Mathur stands out as Lucy, managing to balance the paradoxical traits of excitability and rationality.
The cast work together in near perfect cohesion; Nebo’s direction is clever and dynamic, the transitions are seamless and energetically push the action forward despite a slightly slow start. The costume and set are relatively minimalistic, with the surrealism of the monster bringing a comedic edge to an otherwise frightening character.
Arguably the most impressive aspect of ‘Mother and the Monster’ is the way in which they use sound and light. Assembly Roxy is a relatively small theatre but the use of light makes the show even more intimate, narrowing us in on the action and making the audience feel incredibly close to the action on the stage (including me up in the Gods). Since the dialogue is incredibly quick witted the changes in light mirror and enhance this, echoing the feelings of the characters on stage and allowing their emotion to be conveyed to the audience.
Of course the monster is the catalyst for much of the fear in the show, whenever his character appears the music changes to create a sense of foreboding, but this style is slightly cliché though effective. The mood of the piece shifts quite dramatically and the technical effects serve to magnify these quick tonal changes.
‘Mother and the Monster’ is an impressive debut for Paradigm Lab and I eagerly await their forthcoming shows. It plays at Assembly Roxy until Saturday 2nd of December and, with student tickets only costing £6.50, it is well worth a watch.
Image Credit Andrew Perry.