Review: ‘Melody’s Men’ at Ye Olde Rose & Crown

The show is billed as a ‘romantic Greek comedy’
By Kate Gray

Melody's Men is written by and stars Marilyn Friday
Melody’s Men is written by and stars Marilyn Friday

“Good evening saints and sinners, this is the voice of God.” And so begins Melody’s Men, with a stern reminder to turn off our phones during the performance.

We meet 34-year-old Melody, played by Marilyn Friday (the writer of this one-woman show) as she attends confession at her local church in Frinton-on-Sea, where she still lives with her mother. ‘Greek mama’ is dedicated to the church and Melody, while unsure of her faith – in anything right now – finds herself talking to the priest about her hopes, fears and heartbreaks.

Through these sessions in the confession box, Melody’s story unfolds. While she struggles with the idea of having faith in God, she makes the most of the free counselling that confession offers. There are moments of authentic vulnerability as she talks about losing her father at a young age, the devastation of losing the man she thought was ‘the one’ because he doesn’t want kids – only to discover, at his wedding to someone else, that he’s about to become a father.

As Melody struggles to find the confidence to follow her dream of becoming a writer, we see her life echo the romcom she’s trying to pen. Will she find a man? Which of the many men that Psychic Rosa predicts she will meet will be the one? “Will I get married?” she asks Rosa, who gently pushes a box of tissues in her direction.

We meet an array of characters, from Prince Jack, Dudley and Stella – the ‘Greek mafia’ she moves in with in Walthamstow when she gets a job at a literary agency – to her handsy boss Charles.

The show is billed as a ‘romantic Greek comedy’ and, as Melody continues to be unlucky in love, her Greek relatives want to step in and help. There is a short mention of Broxenia, which Melody explains is where your family not only matchmake you but also attend your first date. This sounds like a rich vein for comedy, but is left sadly unexplored, and there is little else that brings the ‘Greekness’ of this story to life.

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I would have liked the characters to be fleshed out more – the description of Psychic Rosa resembling Pat Butcher painted an instant picture – but we hear little more about her or the true impact she has on Melody.

Perhaps due to opening-night nerves, Marilyn delivered the story at pace, meaning that at times she was talking over the imaginary priest. A few more pauses to allow us to imagine his reactions before she responds would help to bring more depth to the relationship.

There were lots of relatable moments, some well-crafted lines, and the writing shows potential. But forgive me father, I felt it was trying to be too many things at once at the expense of deeper exploration of some big themes and characters.

Melody’s Men was originally written as a film that was shortlisted as a finalist for the Bafta Rocliffe New Writing Competition and was then turned into a play. Excerpts of the theatre show have also featured on BBC Essex Radio.

Melody’s Men is written and stars Marilyn Friday and is directed by Lousie Marie Cooke. It runs each night at 7.30pm until Sunday 28th August, at Ye Olde Rose & Crown Theatre Pub in Hoe Street, Walthamstow. For more information and to buy tickets:


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