Almost Instinct Almost True

How to remember the hermit of Hull? Almost Instinct, Almost True may refuse us an

Moments of lyricism, connection and surprising political relevance

absolute answer, but with moments of lyricism, connection and surprising political relevance, it asks an honest question about Philip Larkin’s controversial legacy.

This is not your average Fringe biopic: the story is told in dialogue between Larkin’s girlfriend of sorts - the lecturer Monica Jones (Julia Munrow) – and her younger, working-class student Tommy (Teddy Walker). And what a wonderfully complex relationship this is! It’s refreshing to watch a show that engages so tactfully with the nuances of age, gender, sexuality, class and political leanings in a way that feels authentic and recognisable, and not a tick-box exercise. The scene changes can be slightly clunky, but dialogue flows naturally between Munrow and Walker, exploring labels and identity through the familiar relationship between female English teacher and 'precocious' student.

Walker perfectly encapsulates the feeling of class-based inadequacy in academia - or at least the difficulty in pronouncing 'Yeats' – while Munrow strikes a balance between

snobbery and tragedy as Monica. She is at her best in her quieter, more tender moments, riddled with the insecurity that Larkin exploits. It’s her story, though she may be known as “Mr Philip Larkin’s girlfriend” and clad in his thickset glasses.

At times, arguments run on and grow repetitive, and there is the occasional lapse into the obvious with cries of “I hate you” and “I’m just so lonely.” Ippolit ought to relax and trust her audience a bit more, as she does when Munrow reads extracts from Larkin’s letters and poems verbatim, beautifully catching the rhyme of Born Yesterday.

It goes without saying that this is a must-see for fans of Larkin, but no-one can ignore the discussions of legacy and history that pervade modern politics. Taking its title from Larkin’s poem An Arundel Tomb, Almost Instinct, Almost True recalls another line: 'Time has transfigured them into untruth'. Walker’s candour in his closing monologue leaves the true Larkin up to us, but one thing is certain: 'poets aren’t the gods we think they are'.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Daniel Pereira

Roundabout @ Summerhall


ZOO Playground


Pleasance Courtyard

Room – A Room of One's Own

Paradise in Augustines

Poems on Gender

Scottish Storytelling Centre

Green Knight

theSpace on the Mile

The After-Dinner Joke


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Our Almost Instinct Almost True is Philip Larkin's famous comment on whether what will survive of us is love. But was that true for his much-betrayed girlfriend, Monica Jones? This play by Rita Ippolit explores the theme of unrequited love, as Monica and her new friend share their loneliness and indulge in grim humour, learning more about each other than they wanted to know. Performed by Teddy Walker and Julia Munrow.

Most Popular See More

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets