The Breakup Monologues

The Breakup Monologues is billed as a comedy chat show hosted by BBC Radio 4 regular Rosie Wilby, discussing all things breakup with ‘other top comedy, theatre and spoken word acts’. Or perhaps I should say usually hosted by Rosie Wilby. On the day I saw the show, Wilby had taken the day off, and comedian Paula Varjack was acting as her stand-in.

There is scope for variation in the quality of the show, and perhaps I attended on a particularly lacklustre occasion.

Joined by Carmina Masoliver and then Catherine Duquette, Varjack led an hour that felt less chat show and more slightly awkward interview. The set-up was very informal; at the start those involved in The Breakup Monologues were sitting in the audience, and several members of the actual audience wandered in late. The show itself was similarly relaxed.

In fairness, it delivered pretty much what the title advertises: a few people talking about their past breakups. However, the tone didn’t quite manage to strike that of friends convivially chatting about past relationships; no-one in the show knew each other and there was a slight but unignorable sense of discomfort.

Catherine Duquette looked far more at home in front of the audience than Carmina Masoliver, and her breakup story was quite a rollercoaster, with some funny moments. She, unfortunately, couldn't quite make up for the fact that the whole set-up felt like I was just listening in on people trying to work through their breakup issues.

If you have a craving for the gossip of complete strangers, then perhaps this is the show for you. Sadly, there was little of the comedy and none of the dynamism that I had hoped for. I felt that The Breakup Monologues overall failed to shed any new light on its engaging initial premise of the difficulty of navigating the endings of relationships. It failed, even, to particularly entertain.

I acknowledge that, on the basis of the changing daily line-up of guest speakers, there is scope for variation in the quality of the show, and perhaps I attended on a particularly lacklustre occasion. The saving grace of The Breakup Monologues is that it is part of the ‘Free Fringe’, however, I would certainly feel dissatisfied if I had bought a ticket. Moreover, there's little point in excusing sub-par shows just because you can't technically ‘not get your money's worth’ when there are plenty of great shows on the Free Fringe. Maybe seek out those instead.

Reviews by Laura Pujos

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The Blurb

A chat show hosted by award-winning BBC Radio 4 and festival regular Rosie Wilby where she and other top comedy, spoken word and theatre acts look back at their best and worst relationship breakup stories. Tragedy plus time equals comedy, right? Can we ever stay friends with our ex-partners? How does technology play a role in our romantic endings? Have you been dumped by tweet? Have you ever been ghosted? Does Gwyneth Paltrow have the right idea and should we be consciously uncoupling?