Charlie's a Clepto

Clare Monnelly
Axis Ballymun and Dublin Port Company
Assembly Showcatcher

Clare Monnelly as Charlie

In this self-penned monologue, directed by Aaron Monaghan, Clare Monnelly is the eponymous Charlie, a young Irish woman with issues in her past but who is beginning to get herself sorted. In fact, she's nearing the finishing line; if she can just go another 24 hours without getting into trouble, she stands a good chance of getting her baby back from the authorities who took him from her.

What follows is the worst day she could imagine, from possibly losing her job after pushing someone into a pile of Coco Pops boxes, to her petty criminal father turning up on her doorstep with his luggage and bag which is—she only finds out when he disappears and isn't answering his phone—stuffed full of money, only to end up, after staging a break-in, coming round in a shed with her hands tied behind her back. Her final obstacle, however, is herself and her feelings of self-worth.

The whole story is delivered mostly at the pace of an exciting adventure story, leavened with plenty of working class Irish wit, but Charlie also looks back to her childhood, getting into 'robbin'' and her relationship with the father of her child in some tender memories between the traumas of her day. Her kleptomania (the misspelling in the title is significant in the story) was a turning point in her life, but really it could have been anything that brought her to the point where she had to fight her way back or lose everything. The title, and to some extent the publicity blurb, seems to suggest more of a frivolous comedy, not the strong, well-crafted drama that it actually is.

And this is a well-written, tightly directed piece of drama with a tour-de-force performance from Monnelly, who plays a whole host of characters, transforming in an instant both physically and vocally from one to another so that we are in no doubt who is speaking.

Even on the small screen, this performance was able to keep my attention for an hour and a quarter and was at different times moving, laugh-out-loud funny and edge-of-the-seat exciting. I'd love to see it live.

And does she get her boy back? Well, we don't find out for certain, but I was left feeling hopeful for her.

Reviewer: David Chadderton