Fred & Alice – Viking Theatre – Review by David Minogue
Written and directed by John Sheehy
Cast: Fred – Ciaran Bermingham
Alice – Cora Fenton
Until August 26th
Fred & Alice is the second play by writer and director John Sheehy. It was first performed in 2013 in Cork and Dublin and has been performed over 150 times since. Following two performances in Limerick earlier this month, it runs at the Viking Theatre in Clontarf, Dublin until August 26th.
It tells an array of stories from the lives of Fred & Alice who recount moments from both before they met each other and how they eventually became a couple. While there are several props used within the course of the play, the set is primarily comprised of a small wooden house that is centre stage and while it seems simplistic, it is used to great effect. Both the meaning and concept of the word home and the physical place of a home are key to this story.
What makes Fred & Alice work as a play is the instant likeability that Ciaran Bermingham and Cora Fenton create in their performances. Theirs is a relationship where language and even specific words play an enormous part in the make-up of their personalities and how they both deal with the real world and create their own world as individuals and as a couple. Throughout the duration of the play Fred and Alice exist in a beautiful choreography of language. Fred’s language at times is a dizzy flow of lists and facts and is interwoven with incidents from his own life while Alice’s language recounts her life stories which mark her as an individual.
While there are great comedic moments in the play it is in the quieter, more introspective moments that have the most power. There is a particular moment that is often tried to be captured in the medium of film or fiction but shows how wonderfully effective theatre is in doing so.
Ciaran Bermingham and Cora Fenton do great justice to John Sheehy’s writing and convey the huge landscape of thoughts and words that is Fred and Alice’s world. These stories are sometimes fragmentary which could be extended in a longer play but work in the course of its one hour duration. I saw this play in the company of a full capacity audience who embraced it greatly.