The Restoration of Hope – New Theatre – Review
Until December 16th
Hope (Jody O’Neill) finds herself shivering in a strange room. She has a memory of drowning but it must be a nightmare, what else could it be? She is confused and struggles to make sense of her surroundings. That is until Larry (Nick Devlin) announces his presence and explains what is going on. It is an unlikely story but slowly she starts to believe what he is saying. She has returned from beyond the grave and has a new purpose. She has entered into a Faustian pact with a demon and has a task to carry out before she will be allowed to stay on earth!
This is a new play by Philip St John who is known for Temptress (2015) and The Sylvia (2013). There are three actors in the cast with Jody O’Neill taking the main part as Hope. She is ably assisted by her ‘mentor’ in the form of Dubliner and discount store owner Larry McGrath played by Nick Devlin. A large portion of the production is a two hander between these actors, as Hope slowly makes sense of her world. She is a sharp and able business woman and is from quite a different world to Larry, but they form an unconventional friendship. Shane O’Regan makes a dramatic late appearance in the play and is very enjoyable in his sinister role.
The set features a simple wardrobe on one side of the stage and a desk on the other. It recreates the office space where Hope arrives back on earth but there are a number of other locations which are largely created through impressive lighting and other tricks. It works quite well but a little imagination is required to fill in the blanks.
The story is intriguing and you are drawn into the world, trying to figure out its intricacies. It is a high concept story and an unorthodox work to see on stage, as it would be more at home on the big screen. In you are looking for negatives the ending, when it arrives, is slightly muddled and does not do justice to what went before. However, the cast do a fine job and there is much to enjoy in this supernatural tale. The play is set at Christmas with the events taking place on Christmas Eve. The production itself runs until December 16th, an unusual time of year for a story of demonic pacts, but it will serve as a welcome distraction from the shopping and stress on the streets of Dublin.
Writer: Philip St John
Director: Matthew Ralli
Cast: Nick Devlin, Jody O’Neill, Shane O’Regan
Producer: Melissa Nolan
Set Design: Lisa Krugel
Sound Design: Carl Kennedy
Lighting Design: Paul Doran
Costume Design: Rowena Cunningham
Stage Manager: Shannon Cowan