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Outlying Islands – Samuel Beckett Theatre – Review

Outlying Islands – Samuel Beckett Theatre – Review
Sugarglass Theatre presents Outlying Islands by David Greig

12 August – 2 September 2017 – Samuel Beckett Theatre

The play is set in an Outer Hebridean island in 1939. Various forces are moving in Europe and war is on the horizon. Two young men, John (Peter Corboy) and Robert (Leonard Buckley) arrive on this wild, isolated island. They are there to carry out an ornithological survey, to study the local birds. They are accompanied to the island by the lease holder Kirk (Karl O’Neill) and his niece Ellen (Maeve O’Mahony). The two men find themselves released from the social structures of England and start to embrace the wild nature of the island.

This is a play by Scottish playwright David Greig which was written in 2002. It is one of his earlier works and contains many of his familiar themes, such as characters searching for a connection. The play was produced by Sugarglass theatre company. The company made quite an impact with their immersive piece ‘All Hell lay beneath’ in 2012, which was quickly followed by Philip Ridley’s Tender Napalm. There was then a hiatus of sorts, as various members of the young company worked on other projects. They have returned and pledged to produce work between Dublin and New York. The director of this piece, Marc Atkinson, recently worked as assistant director of the Gatsby production in the Gate, and continues to make a name for himself in the industry.

The set for the play by Colm McNally is quite striking. All the events take place in a chapel, which is a pagan place that has been left to ruin on the island. There is a door showing the entrance to the space and a simple dirt floor. There are two illuminated circular bands, one on the floor and one hanging above the actors heads, creating the walls. Two musicians lurk in the darkness at the back of the stage. They play a variety of instruments such as piano, drums and saxophone. The music is used to create the bird life on the island, but also to highlight the moments of tension.

The two Cambridge scholars start to lose the trappings of modern society and revert in this pagan place. Robert is played by Leonard Buckley as a bold and volatile individual, who speaks his mind without impediment. Buckley captures Robert’s passion and emotional states with ease. John played by Peter Corboy is the more reserved of the two, trying to keep his friend in check. It is the more difficult part as he has to show the insecurity of the individual. The other main part is played by Maeve O’Mahony, who takes on the emotionally repressed Ellen. She is controlled by her Uncle and yearns for something more.

The play is left deliberately unclear and open to interpretation. Some may struggle with this ambiguity but there are many ideas fighting for your attention. The cast do an impressive job of immersing themselves in this world. It is quite a journey over the course of the play and much ground is covered. It is not for the faint of heart with adult themes explored. It is a striking and stylish production that lures you in, and will give you much to discuss as you leave the theatre.

Duration – 2 hours including interval – Contains nudity

Playwright – David Greig
Director – Marc Atkinson
Set & Lighting – Colm McNally
Costume Design – Christopher Metzger
Composition and Sound Design – Lester St. Louis & Eoghan Quinn
Costume Design – Christopher Metzger

Cast
Ellen – Maeve O’Mahony
John – Peter Corboy
Robert – Leonard Buckley
Kirk – Karl O’Neill
Musicians – Lester St. Louis, Lara Gallagher & Eoghan Quinn

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Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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