Monkeys and Typewriters

If a million monkeys hacked away at a million typewriters, eventually they would produce the complete works of Shakespeare. But could they read it? Would they have anything approaching the critical vocabulary to describe it? According to Monkeys and Typewriters, this is the fundamental human position not just on Shakespeare but on every word out in existence. The premise is far from being radically original, but it is perennially engaging.

Monkeys and Typewriters is not immensely original, but it does have a fair amount to recommend it.

Our heroes, Bigby and Hugo, are two writers working for the Professor. They write words they don’t understand for reasons they can’t comprehend. One day, they are sent to the mysterious Greater Continent. They dress in Hawaiian shirts, shorts and wear white socks with sandals. This Greater Continent is presumably some hellish version of Miami and Miami is hellish enough. Due to this strange mixture the play feels rather like Gonzo meets Godot.

The acting is all suitably exaggerated but particular mention must go to Miss Pearl who manages to make her motor mouth delivery sound strangely natural. Indeed she is startlingly good, particularly in her interview scenes which cross seamlessly over into interrogation. Also, worth noting is the strong chemistry between Bigby and Hugo who share each other’s fear without ever knowing what it is they fear.

The show even has an element so often missing in the theatre of the absurd – compassion. We’re told that of all the words Hugo and Bigby have ever typed out only two of them make any sense. They have typed the other’s name and that is all. It is a beautiful moment to discover that from the vast chasm of meaninglessness that the play postulates there is a degree of human warmth struggling to get through, to make itself heard.

Monkeys and Typewriters is not immensely original, but it does have a fair amount to recommend it. It is a play that will primarily appeal to fans of the theatre of the absurd. 

Reviews by Rory Mackenzie

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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.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Hugo and Bigby. Two reporters locked within a cage of words. Outside of definition, they know nothing. Both work for the Prophet, half man, half newspaper, whose existence is focused solely on his devotion to words. But on the greater continent, beyond words, animals call out in the darkness, caves offer new realities and a lady called Miss Pearl may hold all the answers. An exploration into the spaces between words, sensorial experience and the absurd nothingness in between, Monkeys and Typewriters is a surreal play that finds humour in the uncertainty.

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