Where Sat the Lovers – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review
Performances – 23 – 25 September @ 18:30, 24 & 25 September @ 13:00
Venue – Project Arts Centre – Space Upstairs
At the start of this production, we are introduced to a flamboyant version of Sir Isaac Newton (Wren Dennehy). This character is dressed in exuberant garb, looking closer to a drag act than the real scientist. Isaac holds a microphone and talks directly to the audience, dispensing instantly with the fourth wall. After a brief period of call and response with the audience (‘When I say Isaac, you say Newton’), two other cast members take to the stage, allowing the play to start in earnest.
The production focuses on a young composer (Bláithín Mac Gabhann) who suffers from mental illness. We meet her in two very different situations. In the first act, she meets a young woman (Juliette Crosbie) for the first time. Their dalliance is an internet hookup that does not go according to plan. In the second act, we see the composer with her sister (Maeve O’Mahony) who is worried she is about to suffer another episode of mental illness.
This is a new production by Malaprop theatre company, who are known for their inventive work such as Love+ and Everything Not Saved. The writer of the piece is Dylan Coburn Gray who wrote Citysong which was performed on the Abbey Theatre main stage in 2019. There are four cast members in this production and the play has three acts, with the Isaac Newton character linking the various scenes with brief interludes.
The play is performed in the round, with a circular set in the centre of the Project Main Space and the seats arranged around it. The activities take place in the living room of a small and slightly dowdy flat somewhere in Belfast. The design is surprisingly impressive despite its down at heel setting. A sculpture made out of a number of clothes horses hangs from the ceiling which comes to life later in the play!
The script has a multitude of ideas and concepts, often linked to the art projects of the young composer. The play builds well but there is no natural conclusion that brings the various strands together. Despite this failing, there is much to recommend in this original and diverse new work.
WRITTEN BY DYLAN COBURN GRAY WITH MALAPROP
DIRECTED BY CLAIRE O’REILLY
CAST: Juliette Crosbie, Wren Dennehy, Bláithín MacGabhann, Maeve O’Mahony
SET & Costume DESIGN: MOLLY O’CATHAIN
LIGHTING DESIGN: John Gunning
Sound Design: JENNIFER O’MALLEY & LEON HENRY
Production Manager: Grace Halton
Stage Manager: Rachael Kivlehan
Assistant Stage Manager: Olivia Drennan
PRODUCER: CARLA ROGERS