The Monster in the Hall

David Greig
Traverse 2

There is a real danger of running out of superlatives this year, as David Greig has no fewer than three shows playing. If the other two are as good as The Monster in the Hall, he will collect an almost obligatory 15*.

Greig loves stretching himself and wouldn't dream of taking the easy way out by producing the same show every time.

The Monster in the Hall starts out as a sixties-influence teen musical that might be a second cousin to Hairspray. A chorus quartet using cod American accents sings and narrates the story of Duck, Gemma McElhinney as a normal Ugly Duckling (get it?) sixteen year old from Kirkcaldy in Fife.

Bright Duck has the usual teen problems: no looks, no love and a dodgy home life. Dad, Keith Macpherson's Duke, is an ageing Hell's Angel waster more in love with his Ducatti than the daughter named after it.

Tragedy lurks in the background, as Duck's Mum, Rosie died romantically on the aforementioned Monster when the girl was only three.

Mundane concerns give way to more serious issues, as Duke's MS worsens leaving him temporarily blind and the social services threaten to call.

To spice up the recipe, Duck's gay schoolfriend Lawrence, played by David Carlyle, needs a big favour, while Duke's avatar friend from Norway, in the person of Beth Marshall, flies over to accept a virtual marriage offer.

What starts as a teen musical develops through fairy story to social drama and hilarious onstage computer game, ending as a weepie (I challenge you not to).

Well directed by Guy Hollands and with a strong cast, The Monster in the Hall is a delight.

What will the awesome Greig manage next? We don't have long to wait.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher