The Sylvia – Smock Alley Theatre – Review


The Sylvia is an interesting and well constructed new play written by Philip St. John, which deals with topics such as addiction, love and art. The story starts with a middle-aged artist Barry (John Delaney) and his young wife Sylvia (Anna Sheils McNamee) in their house in the country. Their relationship started under unusual circumstances, as Sylvia was a call girl who posed for him before they fell in love. Sylvia was from a troubled back ground, and had started using drugs and fell into prostitution to feed her addiction. She has been clean of drugs since shortly after meeting Barry, and has started a ‘normal life’ in the countryside, where she is free of temptation. All this changes when a mysterious couple arrive on the scene, drawing her back into a world of sex and drugs.

The dialogue in the play is very impressive, and is delivered at high-speed by the various actors. The two main protagonists Barry (Delaney) and Sylvia (McNamee) are excellent throughout, and McNamee breathes great life into the complex character of Sylvia. A lot of the text is of a sexual nature, so it’s not for the faint hearted but not any more shocking than late night television. There are some great one liners throughout that keep the audience amused and the pace of the play never lets you get bored. The staging of the play is simple but effective, with a sofa and a small amount of furniture creating the two main scenes, the artist’s studio and a sitting room in a town house.

It’s always interesting to see a new play, for how it reflects our society and the possibility of unearthing a new gem. This play is certainly a step away from the average one you will see on stage in Ireland and does make you intrigued by the writer Philip St. John, and I’ll watch out for his name in future. This is a fast paced, unusual work that it well performed and is worth checking out.

The Sylvia is part of the Collaborations series at Smock Alley, and runs from 25th Feb- 9th Mar @ 8pm in the main space.

Play development has been supported by Fishamble: The New Play Company’s New Play Clinic scheme.Written by Philip St John.

Cast : John Delaney, Anna Sheils McNamee, Matthew Ralli and Gillian McCarthy

Directed by Liam Halligan.
Design by Marcus Costello

Categories: Theatre

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