The Doomed Hysteria of an Unexamined Mind by WORMS @ Alma Tavern Theatre

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By Milan Perera, Second Year English

After their acclaimed debut production of ‘Pale wife, factory slug, limp man and a black hole’, WORMS Theatre Collective is back with an even edgier, grittier and jarringly wholesome production that keeps you on the edge of your seats for the entirety of the show.

Written and directed by the founder of the collective, Teddy Monroe, ‘The Doomed Hysteria of an Unexamined Mind’ is a soaring triumph that probes into many a taboo subject: nothing is sacred including God.

The play runs for 75 minutes with no interval and hence the undivided attention of the viewer is of paramount importance to assimilate the themes explored in this theatre spectacle of rare brilliance. The story revolves around Clementine, a young man in his 20s who has been through his fair share of trials. The story not only pertains to his trials but also his attempts to find a panacea and consequently restore some sanity.

The proceeding for the evening kicks off on an ominous note when the narrator emerges from the dimmed stage to deliver an account of what is about to unfold. The role of Narrator was played by the brilliant Jago Abbott, whose previous credits include Manosphere, shown last spring. Narrator is not a distant observer but caught up in the action and his stance on the myriad aspects of the storyline is far from neutral. Abbott flawlessly executes the director’s vision with effortless ease.

In the opening sequence the audience is introduced to the father of Clementine when he is having rough sex with Clementine’s mother. The scene explores power in a bold and affecting way, with the scene effectively introducing us to the type of person Clementine’s father is. The alcoholic father succumbs to premature death due to liver failure to which Clementine responds with a sardonic mirth. He has a sweet and supportive girlfriend, but Clementine callously and unceremoniously dumps her. Clementine’s life is on a free fall, and he seeks solace in the traditional avenues: religion, narcotics and alcohol.

Munroe does not hold back when it comes to exploring the inadequacy of the anachronistic dogmas offered by the organised religion when it comes to ‘real life’ situations. He also sheds some light on the moral bankruptcy of religious institutions and clerics. There are burning issues pertaining to the climate crisis to which Clementine responds with apathy.

The various roles of the play were flawlessly executed by the consummate thespian triumvirate: Albie Marber, George Pack and Jessica Milson.  George Pack who also featured in the autumn production of WORMS displayed his versatility when he slips into various characters seamlessly: abusive father, predatory priest and a low-level drug dealer. Jessica Milson shines as a protean, multi-faceted and an all-round thespian when she plays contrasting roles with aplomb ranging from a long-suffering wife trapped in an abusive marriage, a sweet girlfriend and a zealous environmental activist.

But what a tremendous performance from Albie Marber in the titular role?! He never sets foot wrong. How magnificently he bursts into the long monologues with empathy and emotion. He builds his monologues much akin to a master builder, brick by brick, with the right consistency of emotional mortar. There was pin-drop silence after the curtain call and the subsequent raucous applause was a seal of approval of a thoroughly enthralled audience who have been through an emotional rollercoaster. The intimate theatre venue, Alma Tavern Theatre provided the perfect fodder for this sterling production where the audience members were tantalisingly close to the action unfolding on the stage.

Speaking exclusively to Epigram, WORMS  founder Teddy Monroe could not be happier. As the head of one of the youngest theatre collectives in the region, he is proud to be the ‘Voice in the Wilderness’ when the integrity of theatre productions is compromised to serve hidden agendas. He spoke of his cast with an unadulterated adulation who responded to his artistic vision with panache and finesse. Monroe conceived and finished the script a year ago while he was still at the University of Edinburgh, which was inspired by a chain of events which had been nagging him at the time. Without a doubt the viewer would benefit from multiple viewing of this bold production as it reveals its mystery in layers.

Featured Image: Epigram / Milan Perera


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