Happy Birthday Jacob by Michael Marshall
Púca Productions – Feb 7th – Feb 11th @ 7.30pm
Jacob and Lucas are two brothers growing up in Dublin. Their father has disappeared and it is not the first time. He has a problem with drink and is unreliable at best. Their mother has long since departed, so the two boys are left alone in the house together. Jacob is almost 18 and takes responsibility for his much younger brother Lucas. They manage to get by without the influence of an adult in the house. That is until their mother returns to alter the dynamic.
This is a new play written and directed by Michael Marshall. The play is set in a run down kitchen of a typical suburban house. There is a kitchen table and a couple of chairs, along with two doors disappearing off stage. The play features four characters, the two brothers, their mother and Jacob’s fiery young friend Terry McMahon (Karen Kelly).
The most impressive performance of the play is surely that of Finian Duff Lennon as Lucas Dooley. In the majority of plays, young actors are on stage for short durations and have a couple of lines of text at most. They are not trusted to carry the storyline, ‘never work with children or animals’ being the conventional wisdom. The performance of this 12 year old is very different, as this is a major part. He seems very comfortable treading the boards and has excellent timing. It is rare that a young actor has such a large part in a play for adults and his performance is quite remarkable. The other impressive performance is that of Karen Kelly as Terry McMahon. She is a young woman who does not suffer fools gladly and has some very funny lines.
The play is 90 minutes long and could do with some pruning. Some scenes add little to the overall production and could have been cast aside. Michael Marshall’s dual role as writer/ director is always difficult, and another set of eyes would have helped. That said, there are many moments of hilarity in his production, with a surprising dance sequence and some sharp one-liners. This contrasts well, as the plight of the two boys is quite pessimistic and these moments of humour lighten the mood. The performances noted above are reason enough to see this insightful and imaginative new work.
Michael Marshall – Writer and Director
Ciara Murnane – Producer and Set Designer
Mary Sheehan – Costume Design
Bill Woodland – Lighting and Sound Design
Ciara Gallagher – Stage Manager
Sean Basil Crawford – Jacob Dooley
Finian Duff Lennon – Lucas Dooley
Karen Kelly – Terry McMahon
Maree Jane Duffy – Mary Dooley