It Was Easy (In The End) – Abbey Theatre – Review
Abbey Theatre and THEATREclub co-production – It was easy (in the end)
From 27 April – 4 May 2019
The production is introduced by Eoin Winning, who is the lighting designer for the piece. He comes out on stage in a suit and tie with a collection of cue cards in his hands. He says he asked to talk to the audience before the play started to explain what we are about to see as he found it quite confusing! The play is about the death of capitalism, among other things. It’s set in a not too distant future where everyone has lost their imagination. There are no new shows on Netflix and every theatre puts on Hamlet. We spend our days gazing into our phones instead of talking to the person beside us. At the end of his short speech, Eoin leaves the stage and the curtain rises to reveal the world behind it.
The production takes the form of a number of scenes, linked by style and subject matter as much as anything. There is no strong coherent plot, instead, we get a variety of ideas and concepts teased apart on stage. We see a collection of homeless people occupy the Abbey stage with their blue sleeping bags. We meet the workers in an I-phone factory and hear their plight. There are also various discussions on political correctness, whether the cast should be playing workers in a Chinese factory. Whether the male cast members should be allowed to play female roles and also how class should be portrayed on stage! There are also dance numbers and the start of a new political movement.
After the interval, the production changes again, with a series of monologues by the cast members. These were stories and ideas about what life would be like in a perfect socialist society. It is shown as an ideal world, and while there are still problems, the collective work through them to try to improve life for all.
One of the ideas of THEATREclub is that you are allowed to come and go from the theatre as you please and you can leave your phones on during the performance. While this is novel and different from traditional theatre, it is also quite distracting when the person in the row in front is repeatedly checking their phone or when you have to get up to let someone out. It could also not hide the fact that many people leaving their seats were not returning! The play is far too long at over three hours. As the script contained so many ideas, it could easily have been reduced in length and some scenes felt unnecessary at best.
There are thirteen cast members, including the director Doireann Coady who appears on stage. All of the cast play a variety of characters, changing between scenes. At one point quoting Shakespeare and a moment later discussing social media or homelessness! It’s a constantly evolving piece that demands a lot of the cast and the performances were strong for the most part, with Barry O’Connor, Pom Boyd and John Cronin catching the eye.
It would be easy to accuse this piece of being the product of the snowflake generation. The writing and ideas are quite idealistic. While the piece does give a vision of a better society after the death of capitalism, you have to wonder why people would spend their days making I-phones if they were not being paid for it. There is no doubt there are flaws in their argument but it does help show some of the problems in our current political landscape and discuss possible solutions to them. THEATREclub are an impressive company who continue to promote new ideas and performers. While this is not their best work it would be hard not to enjoy their spirit and sense of abandon.
Pom Boyd: Gertrude; THEATREclub Pom; THEATREclub therapeutic facilitator; Foxconn performance coach pretending to be a therapist; a community worker with Inner City Helping Homeless; a person who is homeless; Ophelia Group Pom
Shane Daniel Byrne: Marcellus; THEATREclub Shane; Foxconn S; Patrick who is homeless
Doireann Coady: Doireann; cult leader of THEATREclub; CEO of Foxconn; leader of the Ophelia Group
Gemma Collins: THEATREclub Gemma; Foxconn G; Philip who is homeless; Ophelia Group Gemma
Lloyd Cooney: Francisco; Laertes; THEATREclub Lloyd; Foxconn L; Mark who is homeless; Ray/Raymie who works in the Absent Factory
John Cronin: Horatio; THEATREclub John; Foxconn J; Jonathan who is homeless
Eva-Jane Gaffney: THEATREclub Eva-Jane; Foxconn EJ; Erica who is homeless; Daniel who is homeless; Ophelia Group Eva-Jane; Laura (Hayleigh for short), the cleaner of the Absent Factory
Breffni Holahan: Claudius; THEATREclub Breffni; Foxconn BH, the instigator of the Hamlet reading group; Carl 1 who is homeless; Ophelia Group Breffni; a woman in power
Neil Keery: THEATREclub Neil; Foxconn Ophelia N; Sammy who is homeless; Ophelia Group Neil
Tony May Junior: Barnardo; THEATREclub TMJ; Foxconn T; Darren who is homeless; Nathan who sells drugs and guns in the Absent Factory
Barry O’Connor: Hamlet; THEATREclub Barry; Foxconn B playing Hamlet; Tommy who is homeless; Tommy who is homeless, playing Hamlet
Eoin Winning: THEATREclub Eoin; Foxconn Polonius E; a Minister for Housing; Brendan, owner of the Absent Factory
Writer: Grace Dyas
Director: Doireann Coady
Set and Costume Designer: Molly O’Cathain
Lighting Designer: Eoin Winning
Assistant Lighting Designer: John Gunning
Sound Designer: Frank Sweeney
Choreographer and Associate Artist: Ruairí Ó’Donnabháin
Researcher and Associate Artist: Sophie Meehan
Costume Supervisor: Aoife Eustace-Doyle
Design Assistant: Natasha Bertram
Designing the Audience: Clare O’Connor
Therapeutic Supervisor: Trish Nannery
Production Manager: Rob Furey
Stage Manager: Fiona Keller
Assistant Stage Manager: Jennifer Aust
Producer: Ciara Elizabeth Smyth
Publicity Image: Dorje de Burgh