Before Monsters Were Made – Project Arts Centre – Review
Vincent (Lorcan Cranitch) has been teaching piano for many years. He is a pillar of the community and well loved by the majority of his students. Vincent has two sons and a much younger wife Jackie, who he married after the death of his first wife. Jackie is a different generation from Vincent and was at school with his sons. When one of Vincent’s students goes missing, questions are asked. She was meant to have attended her piano lesson before she went missing but never showed up. He is accused by rumour and whisper and there are doubts about his role in the disappearance.
This is a production by 15th Oak and was written by Ross Dungan, the same team that brought us the Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle in the Fringe Festival 2012, which was light-hearted look at a man’s life. This new production is a more serious affair, as the subject matter of child abduction and paedophilia are more difficult topics.
The main space in the Project is altered so that the seats are on three sides of the space, with the actors entering and exiting in four directions. It is strange how this alteration changes the mood of the space, although it can be quite unsettling as a viewer. The set and lighting of Zia Holly a quite stylish, with a large open plan space containing tables, chairs and the piano in one corner. The location changes from a domestic house to a Garda station and even outside through alteration of the lights and furniture.
The cast are impressive with Peter Coonan playing the lead role as David. Manus Halligan plays the bumbling younger brother Graham and creates some moments of levity to alter the mood, and has an impressive comic touch. Lorcan Cranitch deserves considerable praise for the complex role of Vincent. His character needs to be ambiguous and leave the audience guessing on whether he is capable of the crime and he does an admirable job.
Director Ben Kidd is known for his work with Dead Centre on plays such as Lippy and Souvenir, but this is an altogether more traditional affair in structure and subject matter. This is a classic page turner, which draws the audience in and keeps you on the edge of your seat. It deals with our perception of a man as we wait for final judgement on whether he is capable of the crimes he is accused of by rumour and innuendo.
15th Oak Productions presents Before Monsters Were Made
Project Arts Centre – 30 April 2015-16 May 2015 8.00pm
Written by Ross Dungan
Directed by Ben Kidd
Sound Design and Composition by Alma Kelliher
Lighting and Set Design by Zia Holly
Costume and Props by Fern McCauley
Produced by Matt Smyth
Cast: Janice Byrne, Peter Coonan, Lorcan Cranitch, Orla Fitzgerald, Manus Halligan, Zena Donnelly and Ava McKevitt