Love à la Mode – Smock Alley – Review
4 – 16 June | 7:30pm | Main Space.
2:30pm matinees on Sat/Sun
The night begins with the normal announcements of fire exits and mobile phones. We are then told that Charlie M’laughlin will not be performing tonight and will be replaced by the understudy Stephen O’Leary. It is unusual enough for a production of this type to have an understudy but a quick scurry through the programme will reveal some facts. It should come as no real surprise that M’Laughlin is not performing tonight as he never existed! His name bears a striking similarity with Cathal MacLochlainn (or Charles Macklin as it is in English), the playwright of this piece who died in 1797! The original MacLochlainn was an actor and writer, and Love à la Mode was one of his most famous works. It is a farce exploring love, social values and race. The play was a hit in its time but is rarely performed in the modern era. This updated story is a playful version of the original, introducing a number of post-modern touches, dance numbers and even some rapping!
The story itself is of a young feisty woman, Charlotte (Caitlin Scott), who has three suitors for her hand in marriage. She is very well off and is not sure whether they want her for her wit and beauty or her money! There is a loud and boorish Scottish man, Sir Archy MacSarcasm (Colm Lennon), the erudite and effeminate Mordecai (Fionnuala Gygax), and a sporty, laddish jockey from Lancashire called Squire Groom (Honi Cooke). What chance does our noble, young Irish man, Sir Callaghan O’Brallaghan (O’Leary), stand against these three suitors? The original play explored the notions of stereotypes and the idea of the stage Irish and this new version continues in a similar vein.
The play has some interesting touches as the understudy plays the part with the script in his hand. He often loses his place and the other actors have to scurry or kill time while he finds his lines. He also refuses to read some lines as they are anti-Semitic! The device works well and allows the actors to get a little bit ‘meta’.
As with most farces, this is not subtle humour. The story is fairly obvious from the start and we know we’re destined for a happy ending, it’s just getting to that point. The young cast enjoy their parts and put a lot of energy into the different roles. There is crowd interaction, sword fights and a couple of musical numbers that have been updated to our times. A lot of thought went into updating this script and it does have a gentle soul. You’ll enjoy it as long as you’re open to it and embrace the madness.
Written by Charles Macklin
Directed by Colm Summers