Charlie's a Clepto
Trouble In Mind
Charlie’s mind is troubled. She knows, she knows she shouldn’t. They warned her about staying away from her old life. But Charlie’s old life seems determined not to want to stay away from her. A recovering kleptomaniac with anger management issues, today is not a good day to mess with her CoCo Pops pyramid. Charlie needs the next twenty-four hours to go smoothly after which everything comes right providing nothing goes wrong. Go to work, come home, go to the meeting, it’s that simple. Except simple's never easy as ugly guys with their uglier mothers, wheeler dealers with get rich quick schemes, a bag with more money than you can possibly imagine and an ex decked out in an Italian suit make all too plain. Leaving Charlie facing into fights, breaking and entering, stealing a BMX and dodging the Garda in a desperate attempt to stay out of trouble. It might look like Love Hate, but Clare Monnelly’s delightful “Charlie’s a Clepto” is Only Fools and Horses padded with extra pounds of pathos. And if its story isn’t always as riveting as it might have been, its storyteller is simply divine.
In Clare Monnelly’s one woman monologue, single mother Charlie is trying to rise up from the lows to the cusp of a second chance. A costumed concoction of black branded activewear, hooped earrings, with hair ponytailed and wearing Crayola pink sneakers Charlie, like Monnelly’s script, is an uneasy tension of the clearly observed and the cliched. Throughout, an overworked literary wordiness brushes uneasily against Monnelly’s streetwise lyricism, far more telling of the debuting writer than of Charlie’s prowess with spelling. As narrative shifts between a frenetic present and signature moments from Charlie’s past, signalled by some less than stellar lighting, Charlie’s story slowly emerges. And if it's a story that’s a little weak in places, it still delivers a fun filled rollercoaster ride through a world of utterly endearing characters.
Under Aaron Monaghan’s direction an already pared back production smartly takes a less is more approach to performance. As a result Monnelly’s restrained movements become points of focused calm in a busy and crowded universe. Letting voice and gesture do most of the heavy lifting, Monnelly seamlessly switches between an array of characters, yet always ensures Charlie is ever present, ever proud, ever vulnerable, and ever so lonely. By the end you want to help make everything right, but as Monnelly makes poignantly clear, only Charlie can make that happen.
If “Charlie’s a Clepto" piles on its moral lessons late in the day in an effort to deliberately yank at the heart strings, even though it didn’t need to, by then you’re prepared to forgive Monnelly just about anything. For if “Charlie’s a Clepto” stutters at times, Monnelly’s performance lights up the stage.
“Charlie’s a Clepto" by Clare Monnelly, presented by Axis Ballymun, runs at The Civic Theatre Tallaght until March 15 after which it undertakes a national tour.