Saturday 29 April 2017

Without getting too theoretical about it, all storytelling comes back to fundamental archetypes that have been around as long as storytelling itself, and

Without getting too theoretical about it, all storytelling comes back to fundamental archetypes that have been around as long as storytelling itself, and Red Rock is no different.

Gareth Philips reveals that the original seed of an idea that Red Rock started as was a contemporary Western, encompassing two feuding families and a sheriff caught in the middle of the two. It has, of course, come on a lot since then, but the evidence (no pun intended) is still there for all to see - the sheriff, so to speak, is Garda Superintendent James McKay, for example, and the feud is between the Kiely and Hennessy families.

The main focus of the soap at the moment though is the missing teenager Rachel Reid, played by Ann Skelly (a very talented young actress, by the by). This week's episodes see Rachel's distraught father Liam (Anthony Brophy) prepare for a televised appeal for Rachel's safe return.

Her whereabouts are a mystery, but the reason for her disappearance isn't: she has been involved in a sordid affair with local bully Garda Brian McGonigle (Sean Mahon), whose corruption and moral bankruptcy have so far known no bounds. His repugnant relationship with 15-year-old Rachel (best friend of his daughter Mel) isn't Brian's only measure of guilt either: one of Red Rock's main ongoing storylines and one of the most meticulously plotted, according to Gareth Philips, is his bullying and manipulation of fellow garda, Sharon Cleere (Jane McGrath, inset). As well as doing his best to get their superiors to remove Sharon, Brian has been waging a campaign of hate against her that includes conspiring to have her beaten up. McGonigle is definitely the villain of the piece and Gareth Philips revealed to us that the climax of these storylines is part of the explosive finale they have planned for June 4 before Red Rock goes on a summer break.

Ahead of that, this week is definitely a turning point though and, as is the tradition of soaps, uninitiated viewers can catch up quickly and become hooked on the various storylines with minimum prior knowledge of what has come before.

If there's someone in the industry who knows about soap storytelling, it's Gareth Philips. Having produced Coronation Street (2000-2006) and Hollyoaks in the UK and acted as story consultant on Fair City during its renaissance of the past couple of years, Philips says he has produced somewhere in the region of 2,500 episodes of soap. That's a lot of suds.

Irish Independent

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