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Looking for Work – Project Arts Centre – Review

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Looking for Work written and directed by Martin Sharry

The stage of the Cube is compact. It is made to feel a great deal larger when there is no set and props are minimal. The performance and the audience are in intimate proximity. In the programme notes about Timmy Creed who plays Alan, it is stated “Tim really enjoys acting but also non-acting and is always looking for new forms of the craft to play with.” It is worth keeping this statement in mind.

The plot for this three hander is not that unusual; a relationship between a man Neil (played by Barry O’Connor) and his partner Sheila (played by Rebecca Guinnane) is going through a rough patch Neill having given up his lucrative enough job and taken to the bed and the drink. Sheila in her loneliness and frustration with Neil’s opting out is having an affair with their lodger Alan. The familiar eternal triangle strikes. Sheila and Alan decide to leave to set up on their own and even look at some half built edifice in the middle of nowhere where they can make their nest. Five years passes. Neill and Rebecca are long back together under the one roof with a five year old kid. Alan comes to visit. Nothing much out of the ordinary in the story line.

What is out of the ordinary is the manner in which the story is told. The set consists of the back wall of the theatre, on the left a double mattress folded at right angles against the back wall; on the right a utilitarian table (kitchen) with two utilitarian chairs. Sheila enters dressed in a simple shortish dark green dress gathered under the bust while she wears a comfortable pair of well-used runners. She speaks in a voice that is on a level pitch and speaks sparingly a word, a phrase, a short sentence-brevity. Alan enters dressed in an unremarkable blue shirt and trousers and another pair of comfortable runners. He too speaks on a level pitch and through their staccato conversation the audience realise they are having an affair. Neil enters the stage casually dressed in jeans and a shirt wearing leather well-worn shoes and takes his place on the mattress with his feet out in front of him with his back leaning against the propped- up mattress. Although all the action in reality takes place on the same plane, the audience knows that Neil is upstairs in the bedroom, Sheila and Alan are downstairs in the kitchen and there is distance between them as Sheila has to shout at Neil to get his attention. However the distance is insufficient for Alan for he is reluctant to do “it” with Sheila as Neill is too close.

By the means of non-acting or almost non-acting Neil, Alan and Sheila permit the watcher to create his or her own bedroom, stair case, doors, kitchen and whatever other visual paraphernalia is needed in our brains in order to imagine that which we cannot see. The result is that the undramatic delivery of the text in a space almost devoid of props by some miraculous process is dramatised and the tensions between the three intertwined individuals are exposed as if under a microscope. In order to achieve this non-acting the cast deliver a beautifully modulated ensemble performance. Looking for Work works. Well worth a visit.

Martin Sharry – LOOKING FOR WORK – Runs at the Project Arts Centre –

25 November 2014-29 November 2014 8.15pm
Preview 25 November
Tickets €14.00/12.00/10.00

Review by Frank L

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