The Darling Monologues

Created, written, directed and performed by author Angela Jackson, The Darling Monologues is a series of three darkly comic monologues which interweave the lives of three women: Lily, Sadie, and Ruby. Through these women, Jackson breathes life into characters from two of her own books. One of these two books, The Emergence of Judy Taylor, was Waterstones’ Scottish Book of the Year in 2014, making Waterstones on Princes Street a fitting and suitable venue to further explore the author’s characters in an evening of blunt truths and comical events.

Any fan of Jackson’s work will enjoy this unique piece of theatre.

There is a stark difference between Jackson’s portrayal of Lily, Sadie, and Ruby respectively. They all possess different characteristics, accents and quirks which offer variety and hilarity to each individual monologue. The women’s stories, though seemingly simple, offer up hidden complexities as the play progresses, a merit to Jackson’s storytelling prowess. It is easy to relate to all three of her characters who, in turn, make the audience laugh and squirm in their seats as they realise the ways in which the lives of these women overlap. Though this play is laugh out loud funny, at points the pace is set in such a way that it feels as though Jackson is relying on the end joke, undermining more serious moments.

The three women speaking in this play are unaware of each other’s existence yet are all linked by the same person: Mark Darling, a man who is never met but whose life is learned about in detail. Information about Mark is shared through the words of these women and the brief recorded, overlapping comments from strangers between each monologue. We learn enough about Darling through these women to make the extra information unnecessary and overwhelming, particularly because of the venue’s acoustics.

A special mention must be given to Jackson’s portrayal of Lily, Mark’s elderly, northern aunt. She is an old woman who has grown to be more and more outspoken, and on learning that she is widowed it feels as though she is speaking to the audience in the hope that someone, anyone, will listen to her ramblings (or compliment her Russian Red Mac lipstick). This is a bittersweet role of an old aunt who has no filter which is played with conviction by Jackson.

Overall, these monologues offer up a story which can be enjoyed in the moment as simple, or read into as complex. The performance, despite some issues with pacing and tech, was polished making it easy to relate to the characters despite their differences. It is rare to see characters from novels being brought to life onstage by their author, and any fan of Jackson’s work will enjoy this unique piece of theatre. 

Reviews by Angela O'Callaghan

Roundabout @ Summerhall

Mixed Brain

★★★★
Summerhall

Jogging

★★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Evocation

★★★
Sweet Grassmarket

Glasgow Central

★★★
theSpace on the Mile

The Other Half Lives

★★★
Upper Church @ Summerhall hosted by RBC

Working Method – Enkidu Khaled

★★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Meet Lily, Sadie and Ruby, acutely observed characters brought to life by their creator, award-winning writer Angela Jackson. Fresh from the pages of her novels, these women and their relationships are fully revealed in three frank and darkly funny, monologues. Sex, secrets, birth, death, infidelity and Russian Red lipstick – no subject is out of bounds. Compelling, with a northern nod to unsentimental compassion and wry wit. Limited run. 'Hilarious and heartbreaking. Jackson can make you look at life slightly differently, and only the very best can do that.' (Scott Pack).