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Prison Monologues, Part I
a Monologue
by Daniel Guyton

COMPANY : Liberal Eye Productions [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Highland Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 4734

SHOWING : June 04, 2015 - June 07, 2015



A collection of 4 monologues by Daniel Guyton, each focused on 4 different women, in jail for 4 different crimes. They are funny, sad, tragic, and eye-opening.

Playwright Daniel Guyton
Director Daniel Guyton
January Tanya Freeman
Rebethany Chastain Kate Guyton
Gretchen AC Smallwood
Jess Peg Thon
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A Prism of Monologues
by playgoer
Sunday, June 7, 2015
One of the 20 offerings in this year’s Atlanta Fringe Festival is Daniel Guyton’s "Prison Monologues, Part I." Four monologues are performed, featuring four different actresses. All are written and directed by the talented Mr. Guyton.

The set, such as it is, is a platform in the corner of the Highland Inn basement ballroom, backed by white sheer curtains from floor to ceiling. Light and sound effects are minimal. Two set pieces, a chair and a table, are used to suggest different prison cells and an interrogation room. It all works very well.

First up is "The Sins of Rebethany Chastain." In this beautifully blocked monologue, Kate Guyton tells the story of what sent Rebethany to prison. Ms. Guyton has a white trash twang, and the tale she tells is a comic set of grievances centering around a bicycle and jealousy of a girl in her class. Yes, there’s a crime involved, but it’s a convoluted path in the telling. It’s beautifully rendered, by playwright, director, and actress alike.

"Hate Male" is also the story of a white trash woman (AC Smallwood), but this monologue is not comic. It starts with a vitrolic, foul-mouthed diatribe against an unseen guard on the other side of invisible bars. The woman has suffered sexual abuse, and her behavior and language alternate between sweet come-ons and hateful insults. The innocent-faced Ms. Smallwood, with a bruise around her right eye, nails the character.

While "Hate Male" was spoken to a prison guard, "January’s Alibi" is spoken to police interrogators who are questioning a woman (Tanya Freeman) in the shooting death of her child’s father. There’s a lot of foul language in this play too, but it’s repeatedly followed by "excuse my French," with some questioning of how crude the French must be to come up with all these cuss words. There are a lot of comic elements in the writing, but the tone isn’t fully comic. This woman seems unusually enthusiastic about her young son, Allegro Junior (although his father has an entirely different first name). Since four-year-old Allegro was at least a witness of the murder, the tone wavers a bit between comedy and seriousness. It doesn’t quite work, but the blocking and acting are first-rate.

The last play is "Say Hi to Agnes for Me," starring Peg Thon as a prison-hardened woman speaking to what appears to be a new cellmate. The overall menacing tone is relieved by a variety of anecdotes, but by only a couple of comic elements. This is a bleak, wonderfully acted piece that truly captures the psyche of a woman marked by her criminal past, but also twisted by her time in confinement. It’s powerful stuff.

Mr. Guyton the director has done Mr. Guyton the playwright proud. I can only wonder (and no doubt marvel) at what "Part II" of these monologues might offer. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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