Cornerstones – Smock Alley Theatre – Review

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Cornerstones Review by Joseph Kearney

Dublin is my favourite city in all the world. I love her leafy Kavanagh canals, her European Boulevard Main Street, her Irishness, the spike, the rhyming slang for monuments like the stiffy by the Liffy (also the spike) and I also love her cracks, her flaws, the parts that frighten us and give Dublin a rough edge, a highly visible heroin problem, dilapidated and abandoned buildings in the Dublin 1 area, beggars on every bridge and children who are brave enough to swear at strangers. Dublin I love you warts and all. Cornerstones has captured the spirit of that broken edgy loveable Dublin.

The show takes an honest look at young people trying to cope in Dublin today. Runcible Spoon’s latest piece brings four young actors to the stage to explore drugs, booze, survival and dreams. The cast, though young, are extremely talented and the performances are impressive, Rex Ryan already stole my heart in The Circus of Perseverance and at the 24 hour plays on the Abbey stage, he stills has it in Cornerstones. Kate Gilmore already familiar with the Boys School from her heart touching performance in ‘Breathless’ once again provides a powerful and strong example of theatre craft at its finest. Cornerstones is a collection of homeless youngsters living in a squat trying to get by, it is not the most original premise but it is a wonderful reworking of an old and familiar format.

Each of the four players are created with enough integrity and true human spirit to make their story intimate to the listener, you can connect with them even if you haven’t lived their stories yourself, the universality of the human condition rings through. In evitable they are overcome by their environment, the reality of a hard graft, the temptation to give up or give in, a series of tough choices and wrong directions, but all portrayed with thought and gentleness. The tragedy is believable and almost unbearable.

Many artists have written poems and novels on that moment of disillusionment that comes to pass when maturity and reality kick in, the realisation that you might not make it, that your plans may not come to pass; Cornerstones characters have the same disillusionment as their dreams of something better refuse to materialise.

The show is not a happy ever after, it is not perfect and in many ways it is as in key with the real Dublin as a story can get. If you love Dublin for its great achievements as much as its shortcomings then this show will strike a familiar note with you.

Cornerstones runs at Smock Alley Theatre until April 19th.

Runcible Spoon Theatre Company Website.


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