Boyz of Harcourt Street – Review by Frances Winston
The Black Box, Smock Alley Theatre, Exchange Street, Lower, Temple Bar, Dublin 8
Runs from July 7th – 12th, 8.30pm nightly – Tickets: €12/10
Boyz of Harcourt Street follows D’arce, Fosterson and Gav as they navigate their way through office politics and personal relationships. The trio are colleagues who work hard and party harder. When the clock strikes five on a Friday they hit the trendy bars where they drink far too much, take way too many drugs and chat up a lot of unfortunate women all the while trying to put the world to rights.
The story is nothing new whatsoever. Lads going on the batter has been a performance staple since long before The Hangover was even a twinkle in its director’s eye so they are definitely not reinventing the wheel. There are some genuinely witty moments in this but on the whole there is nothing new to draw you in and it feels very 1980s with the characters they have created being total stereotypes without much depth. Also, there are several plot points that are touched on and then seem to be forgotten about which becomes frustrating. One of the most promising sequences sees the lads end up in a farm in Carlow, after one or two dozen too many but after a promising start this section goes absolutely nowhere and therefore ultimately seems pointless (one character becomes possessed by the farmer’s dead mother and it is never mentioned again!) At times it is as if they tried to cram every single idea they had into the one hour running time instead of being selective in their edit which leads to a rather disjointed story.
The show is performed by Laurence Falconer, Brendan O’Donohue and Rex Ryan (son of the late Gerry) with Kieran Roche on DJ duties and they use just a bare space to tell the tale so the onus falls on the actors to create the world of the play using just their physicality accompanied by sound effects and a high octane soundtrack. Unfortunately this tack doesn’t always work as their physicality is sorely lacking in certain sections of the play. They are not skilled enough movement artists to tackle a piece like this without the benefit of props and even the introduction of a few chairs would have made some of the sequences seem less awkward. When the physical movement works it works very well but they are definitely overextending themselves here and often don’t appear rooted in the actions.
There are also vocal issues with none of the actors appearing adept at projection and therefore we are treated to a lot of shouting over the music and at times it is difficult to make out what they are saying. For many of the conversation sequences they are also not listening to each other which destroys the illusion of spontaneous thought and leads to slight gaps in the dialogue as one actor very visibly awaits his cue from another.
Roche however is a revelation on the decks. As well as spinning the tunes (which includes the likes of True Faith by New Order, Enjoy The silence from Depeche Mode and Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax) for the clubbing scenes he also takes on an array of characters using just his voice to create everyone from their co-workers to a country farmer to great effect. He also does a truly brilliant job with the sound effects and is definitely one to watch. There are some good ideas here but they are just not always executed in the most efficient way. The story lacks a compelling narrative and not all of the sub plots work. There is definitely potential in this piece and the laugh out loud moments are very, very funny but unfortunately cancelled out by the clichés and stereotypes running throughout. Worth a look but not as funny as it thinks it is.