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 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.