A revival of the 2005 play Motortown by Simon Stephen's was staged by graduating honour students of the Central School of Speech and Drama, in Swiss Cottage.
The Monks motored to Motortown but were delayed by a faltering motorcar, and an abundance of other motor cars going our way. We planned on dining on route but delays meant enforced fasting.
We made it to Swiss Cottage from Leigh On Sea with five minutes to spare. In the crushed lobby of the magnificent theatre, Mrs Monk knocked over the designers cardboard display of the set, ...twice.
The play concerns a damaged soldier Danny returning to London from Basra. This is a confrontational brutal play about Britain, where war and gruesome crimes of humiliation provocatively resonate with contemporary Britain.
The performances were flawless but for the odd first night stumble. On a technical note Mrs Monk was concerned about the long pauses but she is the least qualified to recognise the value of a pause. Give her a moment's silence and she is bound to fill that moment. During the play she could not resist whispering to me during the frequent set changes skilfully executed by the cast over loud contemporary music in semi-darkness
I should declare an interest since the designer Holly Keen is our Goddaughter and we were in fact commanded to attend and to do our God Fatherly and God Motherly duties.
Mrs Monk is herself a drama graduate and we met in London in the seventies while she was on a student tour of British Theatre. She saw for example Pinter's Old Times in Dublin and claims that he was present and addressed her and her fellow students. This would be the birth of her obsession with the pause.
With Holly's family we were a party of 8 and once seated I was obliged to ask them all and few more strangers to move up one seat so that I could join them.
I was in the last seat but one which was marked as reserved, and in due course that seat was occupied by a woman at the last moment.
I later discovered that this woman was in fact the Director of the play, Angie Langfield, who Holly regards as a legend. I would like to apologise to her for my stomach rumblings throughout the play due to starvation, and for Mrs Monk's constant whisperings that may have disturbed her beautifully constructed pauses unduly.
At the original Hampstead Theatre we saw the first theatrical production of Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party, but have not returned since then. At that time the Hampstead Theatre was something of a shed as I recall. Not so now.
I would like to add an odd note of coincidence since the play makes various references to the neighbourhood of the Monks, nearby Southend, the military Garrison of Shoeburyness, but also of Hampstead and Chalk Farm and the A13, a road which we utilised for today's pilgrimage to Hampstead. I am guessing that Motortown refers to Dagenham the home of the Ford Motor Company on the A13 and the fictional home of Danny.