Break opens with a mass brawl, teachers push, bite, kick and slap each other as all hell has breaks loose. So how did things get to this point? Where did it all go wrong? Well, it all started with one of the students, a difficult kid with a mullet named Stuart.
This play takes place in the teacher’s staff room, as five teachers escape the battles of the outside world and relax amongst their co-workers. They peer down on the students in the school yard below and shout at them, tapping on imaginary windows and telling them to go to the principal’s office. The relationships between the various teachers is quite complex, as they are all very different as their chosen fields of expertise would confirm.
The suicide of one of the students and the near rebellion of the third years during the funeral mass is turning the school on its head, and the committee is worried. They employ a young woman as a type of counsellor. She’s closer in age to the students than to the other teachers, and her interest in rap and music is something the kids can relate to, but this new voice in the staff room is rubbing up the teachers the wrong way.
The story is told in a variety of fashions, and there are a number of dance, rap and mime sequences that work well, with the various teachers coming to the fore to the music of Paul Weller, No Doubt, KRS-One and others. The stage is open plan, with only markings on the floor to create the space, and blue plastic chairs that are moved around the stage, with some also hanging from the ceiling.
This is an impressive and well written piece with some good one liners and humorous sequences, while dealing with a difficult topic of teenage suicide. At almost two hours without an interval, some judicious cutting would have helped and some segments are less successful than others. The cast is strong and it moves along at a lively pace, and received a warm reaction from the audience. A good start to my Fringe season, with more to come today!
Hot for Theatre’s production of Break runs at the Project Arts Centre until Sept 21st as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival. It is also part of Fringe on Tour at Draíocht, Blachardstown for performances on September 27th – 28th.
Written by Amy Conroy
Directed by Veronica Coburn
Lighting & Set Design by Paul Keogan
Costume Design by Sínead Cuthbert
Sound Design by Tom Lane
Cast: Clare Barrett, Amy Conroy, Damien Devaney, Elayne Harrington, Tom Lane and Mark Fitzgerald