Monologue Slam UK (LA Edition)

The next Monologue Slam UK (LA Edition) is at Theatre Royal Stratford East on Monday 4 November 2013 from 8pm. Triforce Promotions Monologue Slam UK (LA Edition) is billed like a championship boxing bout – but for aspiring and emerging actors. With a Junior Slam, 1 Minute Smack Down and 3 Minute Heavy Weight Monologue, you expect to see sweat, rolled towels, jogging pants and tense looking coaches.

Instead, over three rounds on one stage at Theatre Royal Stratford East, actors aged 11 years and upwards bravely show off their acting chops. As well as facing a discerning crowd of 470 people, they have an esteemed panel of seven judges, including Julia Crampsie (head of BBC casting), Birmingham Rep’s associate director Steven Luckie and film producer Richard Holmes, to impress.
But like any championship bout there is an ultimate accolade – the chance for the winner of the 3 Minute Slam to get an all expenses paid trip to LA to have casting calls with directors, producers and agents. Based on the testimonies of previous winners, they have all been snapped up by American agents.

In the Junior Slam, five talented boys and girls deal with heavyweight and quirky topics such as violence, abandonment, a foot fetish and the daily grind of army life – all in one minute. Ife Oyerinde William, who performs No Hoodies by an unknown author, is charming and moves easily from cheeky street smarts to anger while returning champion Alex Jarrett retains her crown with a solid and confident interpretation of The Grandfathers by Rory Mullarkey. Jarrett spends her minute pondering the ridiculousness of the daily rituals of army life, bemoaning the logic of ironing creases into camouflage trousers. Since her first win back in June, she has been for auditions at the BBC and CBBC.


Junior Slam winner Alex Jarrett and 1 Minute Slam victor Michael Amaning.

The quality quota is ramped up a notch in the 1 Minute Smack Down. Kelly Russell, plays a tactless 19 year old in Wet Hot American Summer by Michael Showalter and David Wain. Her explanation to her current squeeze Steve about why she prefers to go out with muscled Andy (for sex) is hilarious and credible in her capable hands.

Keiran Garland’s intense performance as a bullying victim in Blam in Gilead by Lanford Wilson is like watching a character actor in the US episodic drama Law & Order franchise. But it’s Michael Amaning’s winning portrayal of the devastating impact of domestic violence and being in care that grips you. It’s as if he has just walked onto stage to tell his own life story.

As for the 3 Minute Monologue, the bar is raised even further with the women shining brightly. Karsten Huttenhain, Nicole Dayes, Sarah Hannah and previous champion Debra Baker are, basically, ‘off the hook’. Baker’s drunken speech at an ex-boyfriend’s wedding, courtesy of I Just Called by Tanja Mariadoss, is priceless. Hannah’s transformation from a “slag” to a doting mother who loses her baby, acted from her own short piece – A Couple of Baileys In – is pitch perfect. Londoner Dayes is full of swagger as the foul mouthed American Saint Monica, from The Last Day of Judas Iscariot by Stephen Adly Guirgis.

3 Minute Heavy Weight Monologue winner Karsten Huttenhain also wrote her winning performance about a bitter spelling bee champion.

Despite the exceptional standard the winner, Canadian Huttenhain, is mesmerising as the slightly disturbed and orphaned spelling bee champion in a self penned piece The Fernsdale, Wyoming Spelling Bee Competition. Her awkward body language, disgruntled nature and seeming arrogance belie a deep sadness at being parentless. She is definitely one to watch.

The brainchild of actors Jimmy Akingbola, Holby City’s Dr Malik, and Fraser Ayres, Monologue Slam UK is a talent showcase with heart. Based on the quality of support in the house, including half the cast of Holby City, Rudolph Walker (Patrick Trueman in EastEnders) and Nicholas Pinnock (ITV’s The Cream Girls), this event isn’t going anywhere soon.

Review by Joy Francis