All That We Found Here – New Theatre – Review by Lisa Jewell
Runs until 15 April at The New Theatre.
Writer/Producer: Donagh Humphreys
Director: Sarah Bradley
Cast: Toni O’Rourke, Killian Coyle, Shane O’Regan, Art Kearns and Ciaran McCabe
Photos by Brendan Morrison
Do you subscribe to the train of thought that good things happen to bad people and that bad things happen to good people? And do you believe that the system is rigged and the rich keep getting richer while the rest of society just keep toiling away, never getting to enjoying the spoils of life?
If so, the philosophy behind All That We Found Here will be right up your proverbial street. The play, which is the first full length drama by Donagh Humphreys, is very much a tale of three acts.
It begins with a party scene at a family mansion on Ailesbury Road. Sophia, the only daughter of rich property developers, has moved back in to take care of the family dog as her parents have left the country. She’s estranged from them and the reasons behind this are revealed later on. This first part of the play produces repeated laughter from the audience. Sophia and her friend Tom are affluent South Dublin types and the humour comes from some nicely observed details of how the other half live. Some might call these details clichés but all clichés come from some kind of truth. The performances of the two actors in this opening vignette – Toni O’Rourke and Killian Coyle – are excellent, which can be said of the entire cast of the play.
As mentioned, the writing is nicely observed and intelligent. Humphreys shows a real flair for comedy in this first section of the play. It moves from more light-hearted hangover talk into a more rigorous questioning about wealth, power and prestige. The mid section of the play concerns Si, a college dropout and former drug addict, who is working alongside his uncle and cousin in their handyman business. Curiously, they have turned up at the very same mansion (now unoccupied) and the conversation about power and wealth neatly parallels the earlier interchange in the very same room.
Si and Sophia have very similar views on the way that the world works – including the opinion that the system is rigged and that in some ways our fate is already set in stone by our station in life. And a feeling that things needn’t be that way – that we could stop thinking of ourselves as being an economy and find our way back to being a society.
As the plot unfolds and enters into a third stage, the tone of the play becomes a lot darker. Philosophic banter gives way to a feeling of physical threat and sharp reality. It remains gripping until the very last moment and there’s a shift in the audience from earlier laughs to mirroring the tension on stage. The play uses lighting and slow motion sequences well and includes interesting audio clips from some of our late great political leaders, to remind us how we got into this almighty mess in Ireland.
Both the writing and acting are compelling reasons to go and see this production – and a play that can make you laugh and make you reflect doesn’t come along that often.