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I walked out.

The Monster in the Hall is about Duck Macatarsney, Melinda Helfrich, a Scottish Teen bound to care for her depressed multiple sclerosis stricken father, Duke, David Whalen. The play takes place on a day of disarray when a social worker comes to visit Duck. Fearing that social services will remove Duck from her father's custody they furiously rehearse a domestic charade to present to the government employee.

When the show starts the audience is introduced to Duck, standing alone under a spotlight wearing thick glasses, boots, jeans, flannel and an Iggy Pop T-shirt. She's cute, a picture of blue collar strength, and self-empowerment. Until the play starts, it's kind of exciting. Duck's circumstance has the potential to make her a teenage, hope-inspiring paragon, meeting personal challenge when saddled with premature responsibility. Unfortunately, less than moments after beginning it stage-dives into a trash compactor of pop music, incongruous humor, defeatism and cliché.

Playwright David Greig was inspired to write The Monster in the Hall after learning about “young carers”, teenagers thrust in to caring for their debilitated parents. He describes his work as an “indie comedy-musical.” Other than Duck's flannel shirt, there isn't anything indie about this show. The bright musical melodies and MMMBopping dance moves makes it feel like this is the production where pop music goes to die. The dialog and character interaction between songs makes you feel like your standing in line to receive a gut punch from Miley Cyrus.

Duck spends the first hour of the show enabling, cleaning up after and making excuses for her father. Together, they rehearse a scheme designed to present themselves as functional. After a brief cleaning, they go over a meal preparation to the cadence of a rap about making macaroni and cheese. At first, the visit from the social worker causes tension, the fear of breaking up their family unit is the driving force in the show. After her visit, the social worker is painted as a savior, a trusted saint offering the support and resources Duck needs to care for her father. As the cast began singing an homage to how great social workers are, I left.

Driving home “Now I Wanna Be Your Dog” came on Pandora radio. The irony was priceless. Once an interviewer asked Iggy Pop, “How do you stay so angry?” He stopped, turned and looked at him and said “I work at it.” Iggy grew up in a trailer park, pulled himself up to become the disputed king of rock and roll. He's the example of traits young carers need - independence, determination and self-reliance. Sadly these traits are absent in a show that feels like a high school guidance counselor's fantasy. Duck is a caricature of a young carer and lacks was written by someone who lacks the personal experience to communicate exactly how serious their lives are.


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