A Life in the Theatre – Smock Alley – Review
3 – 15 Apr | 8pm | Boys’ School
The play opens with two men sitting at a make-up table. Robert is an older man, a stage veteran who believes strongly in the art of theatre, its goals and lofty ambitions. John is a much younger man, an actor at the start of his career who is slowly learning his craft. He seems honoured to be in such impressive company and listens intently to Robert’s sage advice. This is the start of their relationship. We are brought on a whistle-stop tour of their career together, the productions they have been in and their time spent in rehearsal. Over time, their relationship slowly starts to alter.
This is a play written by David Mamet. It later spawned a TV movie starring Matthew Broderick and Jack Lemmon. Mamet is a very well regarded playwright who has written such works as Glengarry Glen Ross (1984) and Speed-the-Plow (1988). This play is one of his earlier productions and was written in 1977, shortly after Sexual Perversity in Chicago (1973) and American Buffalo (1975).
This is a new production that has taken an unusual slant. The two actors that play the parts are in their 20s, with one of the actors wearing make up to play the older man. To further complicate it, they are alternating the roles each night. On the night of this review, Sean Doyle played the older Robert and Ben Waddell the younger man, John.
Having a young man playing an older man is a challenge difficult to surmount. The added gravitas of having a veteran of the stage is impossible for a young man to achieve. Having said that, Sean Doyle was enjoyable in the role throughout and played Robert as an intense and self-absorbed character. Ben Waddell did well as the fresh-faced young actor, with the right blend of naivety and innocence. For whatever reason, it is rare to see Mamet’s work on stage in Dublin and therefore always of interest. The transition in the relationship of the two men is quite subtle and well worked, which is impressive to achieve.
CAST: Sean Doyle + Ben Waddell
DIRECTED BY: James McNulty
LIGHTING DESIGN BY: Maggie Donovan
SET DESIGN BY: Keith Thompson
COSTUME DESIGN BY: Gill Lambert