A Fistful of Mondays

Mon 6th – Sat 11th August 2018

reviews

Ed Strang

at 09:33 on 8th Aug 2018

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First of all, this show is unlike anything you will see at the Fringe. Truly. To get there, we had to get a tram 20 minutes outside of Edinburgh, then walk five minutes to a church.

‘A Fistful of Mondays’ is a community drama project, so it's hard for me to give it a fair assessment. Perhaps the most telling fact about the care it showed its audience is that the resident first-aider was listed in the production notes – thank you Irene for your vigilant watch. We walked into the venue, a church, and were handed a ‘tea ticket’ – I asked what this was for, and was told that during the interval we would be offered tea and biscuits. You don’t get that on the Mile.

The whole evening had an amazing community feel to it – the ‘theatre’ was just a giant hall with tables and chairs littered about, and even the vicar was in attendance (he lent me his pen which I failed to return, effectively booking my one way ticket to the seventh circle of hell).

As you might have noticed, I'm avoiding talking about the show. This is out of respect to the amazing team that put it all together. ‘A Fistful of Mondays’ is a comedy set in pub, following a group of elderly line dancers as they… Well, I don’t know what happens really. There are a lot of jokes though, most of them aimed at a crowd above my age bracket. A personal favourite was “Tom Jones is a pretty common name isn’t it, Graham?” - “Well, its not unusual…” Golden.

This show is an adorable community theatre production, brought about by hard work and love. The whole evening lasted for about two and a half hours, but thirty minutes of that is a tea break. Go and see it if you know someone performing, but I cannot in good conscience advise people to make the journey out in the hope of good theatre.

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Molly Stock-Duerdoth

at 09:51 on 8th Aug 2018

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Out in the literal fringes of Edinburgh, Saughtonhall Drama Group’s production of Joe Graham’s ‘A Fistful of Mondays’ provides a complete contrast to most of what’s on offer in Edinburgh this month. Entirely lacking in edge or artistic pretension, the play follows the tribulations of a line dancing club as they adjust to a new venue in a struggling pub and prepare for a weekend line dancing festival.

It’s a community production, and probably most enjoyable if you are a part of that community. The audience – one of the biggest I’ve been in for an amateur production – is made up almost exclusively of friends of the drama group. It makes for a jubilant, supportive atmosphere and there is resounding laughter throughout. The play’s five acts each take place on a different Monday night in the pub after the dance class, a neat structure which allows the relationships between the characters to develop at an engaging pace. Although initially witty and occasionally insightful, the dialogue does become a little monotonous as the same problems are explored in each act. The jokes – such as Ronald’s insistence on being called Clint when dressed as a cowboy, and Carol’s inability to dance – are worn thin with repetition, and the two and a half hours it takes to tell this story don’t seem entirely necessary.

Nevertheless, it is an amiable piece of friendly, inclusive theatre. The cast and production team span several generations, and all seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves without trying to prove anything. The peril is mild; the line dancing club threatens closure, Annie and Tom struggle in a fledgling relationship, but everything is fixed with an apology or affectionate gesture. The drama is so trifling that it is difficult to believe, such as when Ronald falls out with Duncan because he has joined a tap dance class, but the piece is hardly supposed to be challenging realism. Some of the staging is slightly distracting, such as the unnecessary outfit changes between each act and the animated, silent conversations held by characters the audience is not supposed to be focusing on.

Again, however, the function of this show ought to be remembered; it offers those involved a bit of very light entertainment and the pleasure of seeing their friends onstage, as Saughtonhall Drama Group have now be doing for 70 years. It may be out of place within the rest of the fringe, and the significant distance from central Edinburgh is unfortunate, but it is a sweetly entertaining reminder that theatre need not be inventive or challenging to be fun.

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