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The Prophet of Monto

John Paul Murphy's two-hander is well-acted, but there's just too much tell and not enough show. logo
Laoisa Sexton and Michael Mellamphy
in The Prophet of Monto
(© Dan Brick)
John Paul Murphy's two-hander The Prophet of Monto, being presented at the Flea Theater, is one of those plays where everything has already happened by the time the audience has arrived at the theater, and the actors proceed to tell them everything they missed. So despite some fine work from actors Michael Mellamphy and Laoisa Sexton, it's hard to get involved in the story being told.

Larry (Mellamphy) and Zoe (Sexton) recount details of their relationship with Liam, Larry's brother and Zoe's former lover. Mellamphy has a commanding presence that's instantly felt when he walks into the spotlight for the first time. It's a thuggish kind of cool with a gentleness buried deep within that would not be out of place in a Conor McPherson play or even a Guy Ritchie film.

Larry takes us through a pivotal time in his brother's life, starting from when he meets Zoe -- and by revealing details of their relationship, he tells us how she became an integral part of his life. The problem is that while we hear about his growing infatuation with Zoe -- and how as he falls deeper for her, he loses more and more of himself -- we don't feel it.

Zoe provides her perspective as well, but often times, it feels too cold and analytical. Sexton has an alluring air to her, though, and when she's given the opportunity to shine, she does. One of the strongest and funniest moments in the play is a monologue she has about her family's tradition to accompany bad news with a cake -- which ultimately causes everyone to develop a fear of cake. It's a moment of great comic relief in an otherwise dreary play, and Murphy would benefit from fleshing out more of these idiosyncratic details.

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