Friday, February 23

Child’s Play by Mark Davoren

I have had the pleasure of watching several of Mark Davoren’s monologues.  He wrote North West End UK’s series ‘Home Schooling’, which was very popular, and his short play ‘Child’s Play’ is part of the LightNight 2021 Festival.  Davoren seems to be particularly good at writing short pieces, and herein lies the challenge, to create an interesting storyline in such a short space of time. 

Filmed on location by Daniel Lewis Wilson at Lowlands, home of West Derby Community Association, the scenic back drop adds a vibrancy of colour from the beautiful magnolias set off by the background of the white walls.   The location was well chosen as within the play, the story moves locations, and the four different backdrops create a feeling of a four-scene play.

The narrator is Mark (Tom Martin), who begins his monologue with a speech from Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’, referring to Shakespeare’s seven stages of life.  ‘Child’s Play’ represents infanthood, the first stage, and as Mark wanders down the steps, he reminisces about his elder sisters, Mary (Jen Morrow) and Claire (Natasha Hale).  It is clear from the beginning, that Mark junior, (also played by Tom Martin), is the younger brother, the butt of the jokes and is incessantly teased by his sisters.  Martin slips easily between playing the two Marks using both physicality and voice to bring a childlike quality to young Mark. 

The sisters are portrayed as the slightly older siblings who resent their little brother who, in their words, ‘just eats’.  They have their all-girls club, and he is not invited, three is a crowd as they say.

The short length of the play (under 7 minutes) makes it difficult to build an intricate plotline, but the interesting look into the relationships between infants during childhood resonates, as they attempt to socialise with their peers.

Using Shakespeare’s rhythmic lines as a foundation, combined with Shakespeare’s idea of the seven stages of life, adds a clever nuance to the play.   This interesting combination brings the two different time periods together, interweaving them into this interesting dialogue between siblings.  The watchful parent – offstage, (the voice of Mark Davoren), interjects every so often to remind us that these characters are children needing their parent’s watchful eye.

Overall, the play is cleverly written and well performed.   The well thought out choice of location delivers a tasty morsel to be wholeheartedly enjoyed.    Davoren’s plays are beautifully written, and I am eager to see him expand his repertoire into a lengthier play.  I have a feeling that if he takes up the challenge, we will not be disappointed.

Reviewer: Caroline Worswick

Reviewed: 21st May 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★