Smock Allies – Scene and Heard – Festival Round Up by Frank L.
This a festival of work in progress taking place from 14th February to 4th March. The “whole point” of the festival is:
“We believe that Art is supposed to REACH its audience. We believe it is the prerogative of the work to sometimes not work. We also believe that the AUDIENCE should be instrumental to the development of ART….
We asked the ARTIST to bring their most original, thought provoking, funny and heart wrenching ideas to our stages to inspire our AUDIENCES and to encourage them to give HONEST feedback on the work in development that they see.”
For those attending there are several easy ways that feedback can be given e.g. in the foyer after the performance or by social media: all methods are listed in the programme.
This writer saw “3,400” written and performed by Treasa Nealon, “Love Underwater” a two hander written by Miriam Needham, “Charlie’s Office Angels” a four hander written by Louise O’Meara and “Click This” written by Cian Murray.
When coming the following day to write this piece, the most thought provoking idea that remains is the role of the individual and the sun holiday which emerged as an issue in “Love Underwater” when Malta was being discussed as a holiday destination. Apparently Malta has a vast cat population which the many tourists exacerbate by their sheer presence. The two protagonists have a satirical and insightful discussion as to how they as tourists would react to the problem of the cat if they went to Malta. It was both funny and serious. A good idea that is worth developing particularly in Ireland where there is little, if any discussion, about the negative side of tourism, it is all about the pluses.
“3,400” deals with the topic of the unwanted pregnancy. The title is somewhat obscure but there is a reference in the programme to there being 1,700 souls in Ballyford, Leitrim which might be a clue. Treasa Nealon told the story as one of three girl students sharing accommodation in Dublin. There is a great deal of humour. However in the upcoming debate on 8th Amendment it may not be wise to highlight a vast urban rural divide which this piece does. There may well be more liberal views in parts of rural Ireland and more conservative ones in urban areas than popular tales may choose to acknowledge.
“Charlie’s Office Angels” is an insight into a recruitment agency where the three female employees come from different backgrounds. They have different aspirations for themselves with the work to be done in the agency having a low priority. It is pretty slick but it might be more amusing if at least one member of the staff showed some aptitude for or interest in her work from time to time.
“Click This” is a two hander for a young woman and man. He, by physical gesture and facial expression, quite often morphs into a girl. As the title suggests this piece utilises mobile phones and relies on various social media for its soul. It is fast moving which is the nature of the genre. For the purposes of a play, it is somewhat disconcerting as various ideas are thrashed as soon as they are mentioned. The viewer has little to hold onto as it was machine gun fast. There was good rapport between the two actors.