• Amy Toledano

The Apologists presented by Omnibus Theatre

What is it?

The Apologists is a series of three monologues directed by Jane Moriarty and performed by Gabrielle Scawthorn. The monologues are from Excuses written by Islander Sharazuddin, Seven, The Sweetest Hour by Cordelia O’Neill, and New Universe by Lucinda Burnett.

What is it all about?

Though each monologue is a distinct narrative, each deals in differing ways with the reality of public apology. The characters represent a varied cross section of women, including a leading figure in the NHS, a social media influencer and a director of safeguarding for an international aid charity.

How did it make me feel?

These monologues tackle some very weighty topics and, upon entering, the audience is made aware of a content warning for self-harm, suicide and sexual violence. It is ambitious to attempt to cover such a broad range of complex and heavy topics, especially when divided up into 20 minutes monologues. Unfortunately, it is hard to shake the feeling that any of these topics got the time or depth of exploration they deserve. Narratives of war and conflict in New Universe seem jarringly shoehorned in. Ultimately it borders on being gratuitous.

Gabrielle Scawthorn does an admirable job embodying three very distinct characters in such a short space of time. Her accent work is exceptionally nuanced and differentiates the three women to an extent that feels necessary. Other than accents, the three characters are also differentiated by slight changes of costume - shoes, a jacket and a cardigan - however the transitions between scenes, including these minor costume changes, feel awkward.

The set is sparse, which works well as a blank canvas upon which each of the stories can be told. Lighting design by Saul Valiunas also works well for marking out space and atmosphere.

Anything else?

An ambitious project, The Apologists doesn’t quite do justice to the topics it covers. Though promising in their own right, the monologues struggle to form a coherent trio and the concept of public apology can, at points, feel like a tenuous link between the works.

Emma x

The Apologists is playing at Omnibus Theatre until Sunday 8 March 2020.

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