The New Irish Playbook – Smock Alley – Review by Frank L.
Until May 20th
Smock Alley hosts the 2017 edition of The New Irish Playbook. There are six short plays in total performed each night. They are the two handers: Noir 2000, New Year’s Eve, The Passing, Twenty Minutes Waiting and the one man show ‘Patrick’ which comprise the first half. After the interval there is a longer piece (approximately thirty five minutes) entitled Between the Dawns which is also a two hander. However from Thursday 18th the longer piece will be Suicide Tuesday which is for four actors. The entire performance takes about two hours and twenty minutes, including an interval. Given the number of plays, this tight time table is achieved by very brief scene changes in the first part. An admirable use of carefully planned and quickly executed movement of props achieve the desired results in jig time.
Noir 2000 makes for a difficult start as it is a pastiche of a film noir which morphs into a theatrical performance, where the lead actor gives up because of the grind of being an aspiring young actor, and ends up having a row with the producer/director. For a short piece it probably encompasses too many stratagems. New Year’s Eve takes as its theme the patronising manner in which old people are treated. In this instance, on New Year’s Eve, having the big event in an old people’s home at twelve o’clock midday instead of twelve o’clock midnight. One incumbent is having none of it. The Passing has a couple meeting after years of living different existences as a result of an unexpected death of a mutual friend. While Twenty Minutes Waiting deals with the gamut of emotions that a young guy and his girlfriend traverse as they wait for the result of a home pregnancy test. Patrick is a monologue of a mid-thirties lawyer who has been encircled by alcohol resulting in the loss of his marriage and career with irremediable consequences for him also for one of his former clients.
Between the Dawns is of a different character as it does not articulate a particular social issue. It is a conversation between two men of little zeal as they wait in the early hours of the morning or the late hours of night, depending on your perspective, for a pub to open so that they can obtain another drink. It is in the now familiar stage genre of expecting something to happen but little or nothing does.
Each of the plays were performed with conviction. As a night at the theatre the entire production engages. Preferences for any particular play or plays over the others is bound to be subjectively influenced. The universality of the theme in New Year’s Eve is a topic that needs far greater airing in this reviewer’s opinion. It is also a topic which permits many comic possibilities, which this short play demonstrated. Humour used strategically is a potent weapon.
New Years Eve by David McGregor, directed by Des Shanrahan
Twenty Minutes Waiting written and directed by Joe O’Neill
The Passing written by Alice Kinsella, directed by Eoin Wickham
Patrick written by Nadine Flynn, directed by Rachel Bergin & Claudia Kinahan
Suicide Tuesday written by Hugh Hick, directed by Chris Kelly (running May 18th, 19th & 20th)
Noir 2000 written by Luke Shanahan, directed by James O’Connor
Between the Dawns written by Manus Boyle Tobin, directed by Paul Nugent (running May 15th, 16th, 17th)