Message in a Bottle Monologues: Seven Deadly Sins – 22 February 2024, Theatre Deli, Sheffield 

Review by Jacob Bush. 

Message in a Bottle Monologues, an evening that is becoming a regular on the Sheffield theatre scene, returns to the Theatre Deli. As ever, this is a lovely showcase of talented local actors and writers. This time, each writer has written a monologue based on one of the Seven Deadly Sins (or for one writer, all of them!). The writers don’t know who will be performing their monologue until the actor starts performing, and the actor doesn’t know who has written their monologue until after they’ve finished performing. 

Alice Connolly, the show’s producer, takes the stage once again as a fantastic host. She has wonderful rapport with the audience instantly. She comes up with creative ways to the get the audience involved (who want to be involved – if you want to stay safely in your seat, no one is going to force you to get involved) to determine which order the monologues will be performed in, whilst also bringing back favourite activities to please regular attendees of Message in a Bottle Monologues

First to perform is Laura Alexander with a monologue about Sloth, written by Georgina Faulks. Alexander’s dry humour is excellent, getting plenty of laughs. Faulks’ writing is relatable, creating a character that everyone will be able to see at least a little bit of themselves in. 

Kellie Flatley gives a wonderful performance of Seven, written by Matt Weigold. Weigold humanises each of the Seven Deadly Sins and wonders what Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs would be like if they were the Deadly Sins and lived in Sheffield. His conclusion: they’d go on a night out in Hillsborough. Weigold’s idea is clever, with plenty of humour throughout. Flatley’s performance is one of the highlights of the show (as she has been in previous Message in a Bottle Monologues events). Her stage presence and characterisation are wonderful, and her comic timing is spot on. 

Taylor J also demonstrates very strong comic timing in Anthony Garbett’s Envy. Garbett’s monologue explores how social media can make us envious of those around us, despite the fact we know people only share the good stuff online. Taylor J gives a relatable and believable performance and will surely go on to do many wonderful things in the future. 

The first half is rounded out by Joe Zalias who performs Kei Bailey’s monologue Wrath. Zalias, unsurprisingly as a comedian, has the audience howling with laughter in seconds. He brings the audience in instantly, helped by the fact Bailey’s monologue is addressed directly to the audience in the room. Bailey’s idea of putting a man with anger issues at the front of an anger management workshop is inspired and works brilliantly. Perhaps though it makes a bit too much light of something that people genuinely struggle with. 

After the interval, the tone takes a turn as we watch darker and more emotional monologues. Catherine Traveller gives a strong performance of Gluttony, performed by Verity Brown, in which the idea of addiction is explored. Brown considers how gluttony can be related to more than just food, but that sometimes it’s OK to want things for ourselves. 

Julia Bisby performs two monologues, due to the absence of one actor. With very little rehearsal time, she gives a great performance of Hannah Bacon’s monologue titled Greed. She then follows this up with Carly-Ann Clarke’s Lust, which is an interesting explore of sexual politics in the workplace. 

Alex Wilson completes the proceedings with David Galloway’s monologue Pride. This was more poetic and written in the third person, which makes a change from the rest of the monologues. It is a shame that Wilson had to read his words, as it means we lose some of the rhythm, but he still gets plenty of laughs, characterising Galloway’s words well. 

Message in a Bottle Monologues will surely return in the not too distant as it is now very much a staple in the Sheffield (and beyond) theatre scene, so keep your eyes peeled and be sure to head along to the next evening. 

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