From All Sides @ Smock Alley Theatre Bitter Like A Lemon
Tickets €11 – Dates Sep 13 -17 @ 19:00
Tickets €14/ €12 conc. – Duration 55 mins
Other performance Sep 16 -17 @ 13:30 – Venue: Smock Alley Theatre Black Box
This plays is about two couples. Dom and Jane (Luke Griffin and Aoibheann McCaul) are a married couple. We get to see a typical night out for them. They meet a group of friends at a house party, until an episode in the kitchen involving Susan and a container of pistachio nuts ends the evening abruptly! The other couple is Mel and Kev (Amilia Stewart and Conall Keating). They have been going out for a few years. We also see them on a night out, which seems to be going well until they encounter an ex-partner in the form of Fran and things start to get ugly.
This is the work of Lee Coffey who previously brought us work such as Leper + Chip, Slice The Thief, Peruvian Voodoo, and a Murder of Crows. Lee’s earlier work was in a world of gangsters and drug abuse. It was a heightened reality where anything could happen. This new work deals with a more domestic situation, that of abusive and violent relationships in the home. The play takes the unusual route of allowing the audience to vote for their preferred roles for the characters, that of either the abuser or the victim. The audience are handed cards on the way into the theatre, which allow us to vote at one point about twenty minutes into the proceedings. It adds an interesting dynamic to the piece and means things are not always as you would expect. There is some role reversal and it moves away from more traditionally defined or clichéd characters.
The play is written in verse throughout. There is some interaction between the characters but it is mainly presented in the form of a series of monologues, which Coffey has used before. It would be good to see him dabble with dialogue at some point, and move out of his comfort zone.
The story is told from the perspective of the victim of the abuse in each case. The play is directed by Druid’s Aaron Monaghan who is known for the physical nature of his performances, but this is about the text, with the actors talking directly to the audience and little movement. This play marks a change in Coffey’s work to a much darker place than before. As the performers are essentially playing different characters depending on the vote, you can see a different play each night. The performances are what elevates the piece, with Amilia Stewart and Aoibheann McCaul highly impressive on the night of this review.