Welcome! This is your first free article. Get more free articles when you sign up with your email.

Monkeys Blood

“Fun, but unsubtle”

Here’s a show for fans of symbolism involving apes. In Jamie Eastlake and John Hickman’s new play, Eastlake plays Micky, a successful puppeteer from the North East with a monkey on his back in more ways than one.

First of all there’s his signature doll, a fluffy monkey called George, who spends most of the show clambering all over the place, courtesy of Antonia Draper’s manipulations. Then there’s his shameful past that threatens his skyrocketing career: as a teenager in Hartlepool, a town that once hanged a monkey as a French spy, Micky was involved in an EDL-style racist protest group.

Micky’s journey from regional racist to D-list celebrity puppeteer is told as one long, lurid story, stretching from his childhood love of kids’ TV show Rainbow, to his time in the local am-dram society, to his anti-Muslim marches, to his days at drama school in London.

In truth, this is an awkwardly structured, strangely weighted tale, with little that’s fresh about it. All the ethical meat is squished into the last 10 minutes, and Eastlake and Hickman’s points about racial tension resulting from systemic inequality are valid, but delivered with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

It’s still an enjoyable hour, though, thanks to Eastlake and Draper’s effervescent performances – Draper multi-roles entertainingly as the puppet monkey George and several other caricatures, while Eastlake bounds around the stage, bubbly and raw throughout. It’s funny, too – particularly when Draper has George graphically recreate a sex scene using a teddy bear.

Vault Festival 2019: colourful protests, slick storytelling and cult horror – this year’s top shows

Related to this Review

Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on CraigslistTilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist

Production Details
Production nameMonkeys Blood
StartsFebruary 6, 2019
EndsFebruary 10, 2019
Running time1hr
AuthorJamie Eastlake, John Hickman
DirectorAntonia Draper, Jamie Eastlake
CastAntonia Draper, Jamie Eastlake
ProducerEastlake Productions
VerdictAn entertaining story about Britain’s systemic inequality, told by one man and his puppet monkey
Add New Comment
You must be logged in to comment.
Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue

Invest in The Stage today with a subscription starting at just £3.98
The Stage
© Copyright The Stage Media Company Limited 2020
Linked In