Animalia – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review by Frank L.
January 30 – February 18, 2017
Written by Ian Toner
Directed by Sarah Finlay
The set consists of a wire fence which represents the perimeter of a schoolyard but at its foot is a den or, in fact as the play reveals, a tree house.
Sarah (Ashleigh Dorrell) and Danielle (Louise O’Meara) are two children in the schoolyard, who seem to be involved in open warfare with some other class. The exact cause is not exactly obvious but that may well be the very nature of childhood rivalries. However, Dorrell and O’Meara soon morph into various other children in the school including boys and then return to being Sarah and Danielle. There are a succession of different personalities presented in a series of snippets. The changes are constant. Given the number, it is not easy to differentiate each of the personalities. To add to the crowd, there are in addition teachers as well as parents also portrayed.
While there are some funny lines, and there is a good rapport between Dorrell and O’Meara, the sheer number of personalities in a piece lasting about one hour becomes overwhelming. Given their number, it is not possible for either actor to develop much of a character about any of the children or adults portrayed.
A schoolyard is a good place about which to write a play portraying children. However, it is a tall order to ask any two actors to portray the myriad of different children who populate it, never mind teachers and parents.