The Match Box

The prospect of a two-act monologue that lasts around two and a quarter, an interval, is perhaps daunting for both the actor and aficionados of the genre alike. Angela Murray, however pulls it off with consummate ease in Frank McGuinness’s The Match Box at the Omnibus Theatre, Clapham.

A powerful script sensitively and passionately delivered.

We know all is not well from the outset. Sal’s past tense references to her daughter immediately sow the seeds of a story that will gradually unfold and provide plenty of scope for fertile imaginations, until what happened is eventually revealed. Even that leaves the tale far from it’s ending. Twists and surprises lie in store that are more than just mere events; they pose questions about families and friends, the media and the police, justice and forgiveness, punishment and retribution and above all, about how one woman overcomes hurdles and confronts her demons while maintaining her dignity, integrity and sense of self worth.

There are many appealing aspects to Murray’s performance. She was born in London to Irish parents, so she is comfortable in a play that references both places. The tragedies she relates could happen to anyone with children and impact a far wider circle, indeed many families could tell similar stories not just in an Anglo-Irish context but from all over the world. They are exceptional tales about unexceptional people who find themselves thrust into dire situations, not of their own making, and suddenly transformed into something else. Murray, in this role, captures the ordinariness of Sal. She’s the sort of lady you could pass in the street, or see stirring her tea in the cafe or pushing her trolley around the supermarket and, apart from perhaps noting the colour of her hair, think nothing of her. You would certainly have no idea of her past and ongoing tribulations. Her revelations, therefore, become all the more startling because they happen to such an otherwise plain person.

Strange Fish Theatre Company has another moving success here that follows on well from their triumph with Quietly. Director James O’Donnell has kept this production as simple as possible, allowing Murray’s words to remain at the fore. Paul Lloyd’s basic white-washed set enhances this focus on the text while providing an overall remote context and flexible settings. Along with movement director Rachel Isaac there is still further scope for physically highlighting transitions in the story at various times, but the often eerie sounds from designer and composer Jon McLeod work well in this capacity as does the lighting by Amy Daniels.

This is not just a very satisfying production of a powerful script sensitively and passionately delivered, it is also a piece of history that resonates in so many locations and inevitably begs the question, “What would you have done; what would you do?”

Reviews by Richard Beck

Brockley Jack Theatre

every seven years

★★★
Arcola Theatre

The Game of Love and Chance

★★★
Lion & Unicorn

Two Worlds No Family

★★★★
Jermyn Street Theatre

Mr and Mrs Nobody

★★★★
The Space

Helium

★★★
Southwark Playhouse

Exile

★★

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 £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

"And she grew to be a girl, my daughter, my Mary. Sing a song, Mary. Sing a song for Grandma and Granda"

The ties that bind us can never be broken and a potent flame burns in the heart of a mother. Why is Londoner Sal hiding out in a remote Irish island? Her compelling story is one of love, hate and the desire for revenge. Her tale begs only one question: what would you be prepared to do for the ones you love?

Most Popular See More

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Be More Chill

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets