Review: ‘Purple on Toast’ episode 3

Another week, another episode of ‘Purple on Toast’. So far the recent collaboration between Purple Radio and Buttered Toast has made for very enjoyable listening. This week’s monologues continue this chain, combining humour and pathos in a 16-minute emotional roller-coaster. So why not buckle up and get listening to the latest instalment?  

First up we have ‘Megan’ (written and directed by Maeve Moran), which centres around a shipwrecked group on the beach. But rather than giving the listeners a doom and gloom account of events, Moran’s script combined light-hearted humour with personal relationships, brought together in a beautifully written and poetic whole. With descriptions of the tide and the speaker’s toes, the patchy sky and sunsets (“the last glow ladles itself into the sea every night”) one truly felt immersed into the scene. This was balanced with accounts of university life and memories of drinking in the pub – united to create a hopeful piece of light and shade, weakness and hope, friendship and isolation.

Performing this monologue was Eleanor Kris, who perfectly captured this contrast. With a believable American accent, Kris successfully transported the listener to the beach for a moment of pure, uninterrupted escapism. Written as a speech from the speaker to her mother, Kris gave listeners an insight into their relationship. With a playful tone through rising intonation when guessing her mum’s breakfast, she created a refreshing moment of familiarity between the speaker and the mother we never hear. This sense of playfulness was continued with Kris’ rising volume and faster pace in a moment of joy and humour when describing the various struggles of Nick. Juxtaposed with this came moments of calm, particularly towards the end as she reflected on her hopefulness. Overall Kris gave a compelling and believable performance, with moments of joyful escapism mingled with humour and sombre reflection, in what was a very enjoyable piece.  

The second monologue, ‘100 Calls a Week’, (written by Gregory Vines and directed by Harry Jenkins) presents us with a woman trying to convince someone on a proposal to fund women’s services. The inspiration for such piece was found in a 2017 article, detailing the impact Britain’s leaving the EU would have on women’s services in the UK. Vines’ piece was immensely poignant and relevant to today’s politics, causing one to stop and reflect in several places during the monologue. Combined with the compelling performance of Adela Hernandez-Derbyshire, the emotion of the piece and the real-life influences left one with a feeling that now, more than ever, victims of domestic abuse need help and support, especially in the times we are currently facing.

Hernandez-Derbyshire’s mastery of pause really allowed listeners to consider the contents of the piece, as well as enhancing the emotion behind her character. Combined with her lowering of volume and intonation in the opening section, with minimal responses such as ‘No’ and ‘Right’, this reminded listeners that women’s services may be being undervalued in today’s culture. Hernandez-Derbyshire managed to create a clear relationship with her interlocutor through merely the use of emphasis in her voice. The audience could clearly imagine the dismissive responses of the voiceless participant in the conversation, which only made the importance of the message all the more significant.

Later the monologue turned to describing a victims’ experience (Claire), from the perspective of a helpline manager Melanie. A sense of tragic pathos was created with Hernandez-Derbyshire’s rising pitch, to create a kind of whimpering, juxtaposed with the bluntness of tone when imitating the victim’s mother’s attitude: “But Keith’s a charmer”. By combining these tones in such a way, it made one as a listener all the more emotionally invested, as well as frustrated in the stigma surrounding domestic abuse and the lack of attention it receives. With domestic abuse affecting one in four women, this monologue reminds us all why it needs more attention (and funding), by bringing the emotions of the victims to the surface.

So with this week’s podcast drawing to a conclusion, I cannot help but eagerly anticipate the next one. With Covid-19 becoming an ever-pervading part of our day-to-day lives, ‘Purple on Toast’ continues to demonstrate that the show must, indeed, go on.

Tune in next Thursday for episode 4 of ‘Purple on Toast’.

By Josh Goodwin

Image by Lowri Mathias. 


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