Sunday 18 March 2018

Young men on the verge

  • If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You, Project Theatre
'O'Donovan's two Ennis lads can hold their own with the best of them'
'O'Donovan's two Ennis lads can hold their own with the best of them'

Katy Hayes

This is a real treat: a sophisticated two-hander about a pair of young lads poised on the edge of a roof and on the verge of love. Casey and Mikey are hiding out from the police on a sloping slate roof in the Clare town of Ennis. The house is surrounded by police cars. They have just robbed a petrol station, with Mikey using considerable violence, as evinced by the broken hurley stick he is carrying. They got €16 and some sweets. They have also robbed the house they are sitting on top of. It is Casey's own house; he hates his step-dad. The haul was €500 and a bag of the step-dad's cocaine. The police below don't know they are up there.

They have two options: one is to escape through the Keenans' Traveller residence to one side of the house; the other is to wait until the police leave. Casey's step-dad has created bad blood with the Traveller family, which makes that route dangerous to follow. So they wait, and the talk flows.

Two men waiting are a familiar motif in Irish drama. It is Halloween night, and they are due at a party where all the lads who have gone to Dublin as students will be back for the mid-term break. Mikey is keen to show off Casey to his old schoolmates. His ex-boyfriend Paul will be at the party, and he wants to impress him.

Eighteen-year-old Casey is a blow-in to Ennis. Having been reared in London, he came at the age of 12. In a strong, heartfelt performance by Josh Williams, he conveys his sense of being an intrusion on his mother's life.

Alan Mahon as Mikey is full of bravura and suppressed violence which conceals his vulnerability. He is like a tinderbox, just waiting for something to spark him into furious flames.

Thomas Martin directs for One Duck, keeping the tension high over 85 minutes. There are excellent bits of business involving the roof, including noisy M&Ms skittering down the slope and old memories stirred by treasures found in the guttering. Georgia de Grey's blue-toned roof design is just right, complemented by Derek Anderson's cool, night-time lighting. Police-car lights and sound bring added drama to this tense and dangerous setting.

Young playwright John O'Donovan's script is hugely satisfying and full of intelligence. There is wonderfully scathing talk of gay marriage - the themes are explored in all their complexity and the difficult psychology of violence is probed. Mikey's being gay has made his life to be a constant battleground. Casey has sheltered himself in the closet. The story momentum is driven by the precarious position on the roof, as well as the shifting emotional dynamic. It is also very funny. As the lengthy title suggests, this is essentially a play about love.

Early in their careers many Irish playwrights have tackled teenage and early-twenties life. Notable examples include Brian Friel's Lovers, Gina Moxley's Danti-Dan and Tom Murphy/Noel O'Donoghue's On the Outside. O'Donovan's two Ennis lads can hold their own with the best of them.

Book it now...


Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin, Jan 23  — 27

Funnier than the black death, this musical version of the 1975 Monty Python film follows King Arthur and his hapless knights on their quest for the Holy Grail, meeting killer rabbits and dancing nuns on the way. Written by comic legend Eric Idle.


The New Theatre, Dublin, Jan 22 — Feb 3

Anna is a first-year college student put on trial for allegedly defying an injunction to prevent her seeking an abortion. The audience is the jury and listen to the facts of her case and decide a verdict. An intriguing idea, written by Megan O’Malley.


Peacock Theatre, Dublin, Jan 24 —  Feb 3

Written and directed by Iseult Golden and David Horan, this was a hit in last year’s Dublin Theatre Festival and gets a welcome revival at the national theatre. A funny take on the trauma involved in parent-teacher meetings.

Sensitive study of twenty-something life

Review: Save + Quit, The New Theatre, Dublin

In this 60-minute show, a pair of complementary one-act plays present a vivid picture of the complexities of life for contemporary twenty-somethings.

The first half is set in London, where young, idealistic teacher Steph (Josie Charles) has sought a position in a rough school because she believes she can make a difference. We also meet Joe (Eddie-Joe Robinson), who is being required by his house-moving mother to clear his old Xbox from his room. The Xbox has immense emotional significance for Joe.

They relate their stories as interleaved monologues, quietly building intrigue; a character in one person’s story shows up in the other for example. Finally, the pair have cause to interact. In the second phase, the action is moved to Dublin and we meet two more characters. These are ex-friends/lovers — it’s complicated. Dylan (Peter Mooney), from Dalkey, meets Cara (Niamh Branigan) from Tallaght when they are both studying in Trinity. Cara, for family reasons, drops out of college.

The complexities thrown up by their different backgrounds lead to a sundering of their friendship/love. Again, the stories are delivered as interleaved monologues, with a build up towards a possible meeting when a family death causes a reopening of contact. Again, a character stumbles from one story into the other.

The staging is utterly simple — a couple of chairs and some well-judged lighting moves by designer Líadan Ní Chearbhaill. Writer Sophia Leuner has captured the essence of the human chrysalis phase; that space when young people emotionally leave their families and move forth into the rest of their lives. The writing is sensitive, wise and structurally accomplished within the monologue form.

Director Billie De Buitléar does a terrific job of drawing out almost-perfect performances from the cast.

- Katy Hayes

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