Ask Me Anything (Covid Monologues Vol 3)
Elysium Theatre Company
Over a Zoom call, Lucy (Heather Carroll) invites question from her online audience. The innocent offer results in a series of questions which gradually build to a story of political and corporate corruption, online abuse and personal and professional responsibility.
Author Chris Neville-Smith squeezes a lot into the short running time of Ask Me Anything. A great deal of background information is given, and many characters are named, but, without faces to link them to, it becomes hard to distinguish one from another. Some of the details are not convincing; part of the plot concerns an MP becoming so involved with an outside organisation he is able to participate in one-to-one meetings with staff. This seems unlikely—the involvement of MPs tends to be limited to using their influence in Parliament and collecting large consultancy fees.
Ask Me Anything is a very ambitious play covering many subjects. Just as it seems the central theme has been identified, another one pops up—even down to the closing moments. The dominant theme may be the need to take personal responsibility to challenge abuses of power, but as the play concerns also a plot to switch proposed community housing into yuppie dwellings, a sting operation to catch a corrupt MP, workplace intimidation and online harassment, it is hard to be sure.
Heather Carroll shows Lucy to be an unlikely heroine. Determined to be honest about past mistakes but visibly affected as she realises the consequences. It is a fine portrayal of someone resolved to correct wrongs even if it puts her in a bad light.
Although it is not always easy to follow the plot in Ask Me Anything, the play packs a powerful emotional punch.
Reviewer: David Cunningham