Burning Monkey relates the story of a teenage couple and their interactions with an older war veteran, trying to rebuild his fractured relationship with his daughter. While their exchanges initially show a hostile and unsympathetic clash of generations, it soon becomes apparent that they share similar pain – based on their damaged family relationships, and absent parents/children – and they begin to feel empathy for one another’s plight.
In the background, the presence of war looms; the character of Old is haunted by memories of his time as a soldier and the character of Monkey looks forward to a time when he can escape the depressing realities of his life and join the army. In the midst of this, Shell is fifteen, madly in love with Monkey, and pregnant with his child. Her attempts to try and make the irresponsible, immature Monkey stay with her become increasingly desperate.
Burning Monkey is a play that raises important issues for teenagers, addressing themes such as war, violence, separated families and responsibility. It is available both in English- and Welsh-language versions, the latter titled as Mwnci ar dân.