Festivals

Templemore – New Theatre – Review – Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival

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Templemore – Review by Cormac Fitzgerald

Running: Sep 9-12, 2015 at The New Theatre, East Essex Street, Dublin 2

Templemore opens with young Garda recruit Éadaoin (writer Áine Ryan) combing her friend Shonagh’s (Irene Kelleher) hair for nits in her bedroom in the titular Garda college in Tipperary. Éadaoin gushes about the night before and the passionate and wild time she had with Geróid (Mark Griffin), another young Garda recruit. Soon she has convinced Shonagh to bunk off her college duties for the day to join her and Geróid at a local folk festival.

It’s here that things start to go awry, however. Éadaoin spots a person from her past at the carnival. To put it mildly, the encounter elicits a very strong response and sets in motion a bizarre chain of events that end in tragedy and heartache for many of the characters. Éadaoin becomes almost possessed with a singular-intent while the other characters try to come to terms with her sudden change and deal with their own family issues.

Templemore is hard to get a grip on. The characters speak in a kind of Shakespearean-like, poetic dialogue that relies heavily on alliteration. While this makes for some nice imagery and description at times – like “fine friends to have in a famine” – it jars for much of the play and leads to a lot of clunky sentences: “Is the gut that gaudy?” one character asks when the other is sick. It’s hard to know the purpose of the odd-speak and a lot of the time it is difficult to understand what some of the actors are saying.

There is a sense of folky magic and mischief throughout the production. Celtic traditional music plays occasionally and the setting has a magical quality to it. The characters’ behaviour appears to be influenced by nature and their surroundings and one gets the sense that they are not completely in control of their actions, but are rather possessed by their environment. But while this is a compelling idea, like much in the play it isn’t executed too well. Each character’s motivation or purpose is never properly fleshed out and their actions become downright bizarre at times, seeming like they are more disorganised and confused rather than under the influence of some other power.

The actors for the most part don’t get to grips with their characters, veering between comedy and tragedy too fast to really convey either. Lines are occasionally mumbled and character interaction can seem a bit wooden at times – as though the cast are on different levels and unable to properly communicate with one another.

The play itself also tries to veer too quickly between comedy and tragedy without every properly capturing either. The effect is such that the audience doesn’t know whether to laugh or to cry, more out of confusion than anything else.

There are things to like about Templemore: the characters are interesting, the setting is novel and the magical element shimmering beneath the surface is a good idea. The set design is well used, with a makeshift tent and bedroom assembled by the actors providing most of the action. However, one can’t help thinking that if a more coherent plot structure was hammered out, with a paring back or proper refining of the poetic dialect, and if the actors were a bit more sure of who they were supposed to be playing, a much better play could have been staged.

 

Templemore – Review by Cormac Fitzgerald

Director: Janice de Broithe

Writer: Áine Ryan

Staged by: Studio perform

Starring: Áine Ryan, Irene Kelleher, Mark Griffin

Running: Sep 9-12, 2015 at The New Theatre, East Essex Street, Dublin 2

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