Starlet – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review
Performances – 18 – 22 September
Venue – Smock Alley Theatre – Black Box
This is comedian Alison Spittle’s debut as a playwright. The plot is remarkably simple as we get to study the mating rituals of a young couple from the midlands of Ireland! The year is 2008 and the location is somewhere in county Westmeath. We meet Michael (Peter McGann) as he is waiting for Shannon (Roxanna Nic Liam) outside her house in his Toyota Starlet. He beeps the horn impatiently as she fails to appear. Then there is a flurry of activity before Shannon lands in the seat beside him, and so their night begins which will contain a trip to the movies and pints before the real action starts!
As you would expect from Spittle, the piece is packed with gags and some work very well, like a car radio that refuses to play anything other than songs from the Road Safety Authority commercials or the fact that Michael seems to have named his car after his Mam!
Spittle lived in a variety of locations in Westmeath, so you would expect this to be based on real life to some extent. The cast have near perfect accents and there is a nervous energy throughout the performance, as we’re unsure how their date will go. Peter McGann plays Michael as an aloof and emotionally stunted man, who barely gives away any personal details and hides the fact he cried at the end of their film! Roxanna Nic Liam plays Shannon as an easy going girl who lives life with a smile on her face. The pair fall nicely into the stereotypes the play hopes to skewer.
The writing is well observed and feels uniquely Irish. It is a relatively short performance at about 45 minutes long but packs a lot in. The most unusual thing about this play is how straight forward it is. You keep waiting for a twist that never arrives but it captures a slice of life in rural Ireland. The production ends with one of the most awkward moments captured on stage in recent times, for a most unusual ‘happy ending’!
Directed – Simon Mulholland
Starring – Roxanna Nic Liam and Peter McGann
Writer – Alison Spittle