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The great Tanya Moodie delivers five powerful monologues about a young woman failed by society
Sometimes, when you haven’t taken the time to read anything about the play you’re going to review, there comes a moment of dread when, just before the lights go down, you glance over the production notes and realise it’s literally just one single woman saying things, for an hour. Thankfully, this collection of five monologues by Clean Break (a registered charity working with ex-offenders) is more engaging than your average barebones solo performance.
‘Joanne’ comprises five separate accounts from five public sector workers, which together tell the story of a vulnerable young woman who’s been failed by the very institutions that are supposed to protect her. There’s the probation officer, the policewoman who used to be a school bully, the A&E receptionist, the hostel worker and the teacher. Each recalls an encounter with our eponymous, absent subject, whose plight comes as a result of a mixture of government cuts and individual hesitation.
Tanya Moodie deserves praise for a hardworking performance, embellishing each character with unique tics and mannerisms. Some are more animated than others – her skittish hospital worker is forever one loud noise away from a breakdown – but the variety makes for an engaging hour, and helps to drive home the tragedy at the piece’s core.