The Streets are Ours – Smock Alley – Review by Frank L
The Streets are Ours – Written by Robert Higgins
Fregoli brings another new play to fruition with its production of Robert Higgins’ first play “The Streets are Ours”. Set in the midlands of Ireland it deals with four friends in their mid to late twenties who were best friends growing up. One of them, Liam (Jerry Fitzgerald), left the town and went to seek fame and fortune on the building sites of Western Australia. Dean (Jarlath Tivnan) has inherited the family farm, his father having died. Casper (Oisin Robbins) lives on his wits in order to supplement his minimum wage job at the local Tesco. The play begins with the return of Liam which awakens submerged animosities and a variety of frustrations in the three men. Into the mix enters Charlene (Maria Dillon) who has gradually drifted away from her former pals but the return of Liam re-awakens their particular past.
Higgins in writing this play creates a contemporary atmosphere in relation to the return of the emigrant to his rural past. With skype and other social media, the emigrant is not as remote as he or she once was. They are nowadays a relatively short flight from home. Typically there is a need for Liam to catch up on the local happenings and gossip since he left while Dean is fixated by his imprisonment by the grind of the family farm. He resents the freedom Liam has enjoyed. Casper is more easy going; he looks for the next party or bit of diversion but he too is conscious that he is trapped even if he has a vague idea of getting back to the books in order to improve his chances. Charlene has moved on from her teenage years but it is far from certain that what she is pursuing is an improvement.
Higgins has a fine ear for his characters and their world. He cleverly constructs the interaction between the four characters as they reveal their prejudices and difficulties which Liam’s return awakens. The role of the returned emigrant, like any aspect of life, which has evolved and is evolving in the light of modern technology. It alters the essence of emigration. The tensions and pressures on each of the four are very much of the twenty first century, this narrative part of the play works well. Less successful is when the actors perform set pieces describing locations and emotions. Although comparatively brief and well delivered, as a dramatic device they did not convince.
Fregoli, with this production, add to their reputation as a theatre company which delivers high quality new work. The play will return to Smock Alley on 17th and 18th October.
CAST: Maria Dillon, Jerry Fitzgerald, Jarlath Tivnan, Oisin Robbins
WRITTEN BY Robert Higgins
DIRECTED BY Maria Tivnan
LIGHTING DESIGN BY Matt Burke
SET DESIGN BY Ruth Walsh