Sparkling, hilarious, irreverent Mono comes to His Majesty’s

John Wood, Emily Taheny and Max Gillies in Mono

Theatrical monologues were once extremely popular, but changing times took them in a different direction. A new three-person show, Mono, coming to Perth soon, shows the brilliance of this work, showcasing talented actors who can capture audiences on a simple stage with few props.

Writer-director-producer Angus FitzSimons, who delighted audiences with Senior Moments, has written a sparkling new work starring Max Gillies and John Wood who both played in Moments and Emily Taheny who spent 10 years with Shaun Micallef on the ABC’s Mad as Hell.

“I wrote the three-people monologue in just under two weeks in 2020,” Angus tells Have a Go News. “I can write very fast but I had been thinking about it for a long time. The story goes Noel Coward wrote Private
in a weekend but he said he had been thinking about it for a year. You think about things for a long time, then you sit down and do it.”

Mono happened at the beginning of Covid, I had an idea about doing a show with three people doing monologues in the style of Joyce Grenfell or Bob Newhart so I wrote three individual pieces.

“At the time, there was a lot of speculation if people could be in the same room to rehearse or have anything like that going on. So I thought I would write something where everybody is distinct and individual and that was how the show was born.

“Monologues are not so common these days and one of the reasons my thoughts turned to this was when Barry Humphries died recently. Dame Edna started out in a monologue. It was that style in the 50s and they were popular pieces but, apart from actors auditioning, the monologue has become a lost art.

“There was a time when such performers as Shelley Berman, Bob Newhart and Joyce Grenfell did monologues and audiences loved it. I thought it was time this sort of comedy should be revived. 

“That unique style of performer has changed. I think what changed it in some ways was such shows as Beyond the Fringe
with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett who was also a very good monologue writer. It changed things into a review, more like plays and ensemble pieces.”

Angus says he went to see a play about younger people aged in their 20s in an unhappy marriage yelling at each other. 

“I thought, why don’t I write a play for older people that seniors would be interested in, instead of watching a play about younger people having arguments, so Senior Moments was born.

“From that show I have Max Gillies and John Wood and also Emily Taheny. Max is one of the funniest people I have seen, John is a great actor who brings the house down in Mono with his police monologue and Emily is a brilliant comedic actress.”

Audiences will be delighted with a range of roles from the trio who give three monologues each, including a headmistress, mother of the bride, a priest giving a sermon, a police officer giving evidence, an auctioneer and a conductor Victor Borge-style.

Costumes range from a policeman’s uniform, a conductor’s suit and a spangly number and there are a lot of quick changes, Angus says. 

“The set is a central podium so we don’t have to worry about transporting sets around the country.”

Post Covid, Angus says there is a huge thirst for theatre. 

“There’s a real buzz, the thrill and joy of being back, the roar of the crowd is electric, you can’t replace it.”

Mono toured nationally last year and there are plans for more touring including to New Zealand. Angus is also presenting a one-woman play, Mourning Tea, starring Kim Lewis (Sons and Daughters).

He has written a book, Senior Moments (Hatchette 2020) and is working on another comedy. He has another book,
300 People You Should Avoid At All Costs
, coming out later this year.

“I’m refreshingly busy at the moment,” he says.

Mono, presented by Bunbury Productions, plays at His Majesty’s Theatre from May 17–21. Bookings: Visit the Mono website.