Monroe & Associates

Intriguing whodunnit, an interactive theatre experience to get detective juices flowing.
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 Frankie’s Caravan in Monroe & Associates. Image via The Last Great Hunt.

Frankie Monroe is a private investigator, waking from a coma and returning to life and work. Frankie has amnesia, the injury that hospitalised him also damaging his brain and wiping all his memories. At this point, if you have not yet seen Monroe & Associates, but intend to do so, you should stop reading this review, go and attend the show without any preconceptions.

Greeted by a friendly performer next to the black caravan venue, given some handy tips and reassurance along with an envelope and a dashing black hat, the lone audience member decides what persona Frankie should now adopt with his walk and talk – as you, the audience, are also the main character.

Devised by Anthony and Tim Watts, and presented by The Last Great Hunt, no two performances of Monroe & Associates will ever be the same. Left alone in the caravan office, each audience member has their own approach to the set and the story unfolds in response. While clues abound in the poky office of Monroe & Associates, Frankie needs to determine which ones are relevant, who he can trust and what he’s going to do next. As no man is an island, Frankie finds that other characters are waiting to help. Nancy has left a letter on the desk, explaining that she needs to get a new job, but she’ll be at the telephone company, ready to help in any way she can. There are telephone messages on the answering machine, diaries and newspaper articles in various places and even a joke book with interesting marks around punchlines. Every now and again the phone may ring – if Frankie answers it, he may learn more about what is going on in the world outside his office while he tries to piece together the details of his past.

Individually, cast members Lawrence Ashford, Geordie Crawley and Gita Bezard take turns in playing all the other roles, and monitoring events within the set. Responding to the audience member’s progress, additional hints may be dropped, musical atmosphere adjusted, and a friendly visit made. This visit is timed to create maximum impact with growing apprehension of Frankie’s dark deeds that originally led to the shootings causing his hospital stay. The various characters created on the phone all have distinctive voices, cadences and fixations, creating a world around Frankie and responding appropriately to any questions. The set is full of clues, complete with red herrings and false trails, as well as tools to help Frankie deal with sticky situations as they arise.

Puzzle solving creates its own story arc, and there are no right or wrong approaches to this performance that grows with you and responds to your reactions in this tightly executed, intensely personal piece of interactive theatre. Curiosity is rewarded, satisfaction in piecing together clues abounds and adrenalin pumps as you realise how close and immediate the personal threat might be…

Monroe & Associates is large drama on a tiny scale, another piece of this year’s FringeWorld puzzle.


Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5

Monroe & Associates

Presented by The Last Great Hunt
Created by Anthony and Tim Watts
Performances by Lawrence Ashford, Geordie Crawley and Gita Bezard
Frankie’s Caravan, Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge
20 January – 12 February 2017
Part of FringeWorld 2017  

Nerida Dickinson
About the Author
Nerida Dickinson is a writer with an interest in the arts. Previously based in Melbourne and Manchester, she is observing the growth of Perth's arts sector with interest.