Iron Annie – Smock Alley – Review

Iron Annie – Smock Alley – Review

DUBLIN | 21, 22, 23 JULY 2022
BELFAST | 29, 30 JULY 2022 – Accidental Theatre – tickets
DUNDALK | 6TH AUGUST 2022 – Spirit Store – tickets

Aoife is a minor drug dealer operating in her home town of Dundalk, offering pills to the natives.  She has travelled to Galway to pick up some merchandise when she meets a young man at a bar. They hit it off and she goes back to his place, but all is not as it seems. In fact, the young man isn’t a man at all! That’s where Aoife meets Annie, who could quickly become the love of her life!

This is a play based on the book of the same name by Luke Cassidy. It is his debut novel and was well received, and was short-listed for the Desmond Elliott Prize, an award for debut writers.  However, this is not a straightforward adaptation of the novel.  Instead, it features music from both singer-songwriter Annie Callaghan and also the wonderfully named 4-piece band False Slag.

The small stage of the Boy’s School in Smock Alley is filled with performers, with the band and their instruments on one side of the stage and Annie Callaghan on the other.  At centre stage, we have Georgia Cooney, who plays Aoife and talks directly to the audience, guiding them through this unusual love story.

The play is not a gritty tale of crime and drug dealing, instead, it is almost an aside to allow the troubled love story to emerge, along with a collection of unusual characters who live around ‘the Town’. There is no major twist or denouement, the focus is purely on the characters and their various relationships.

The tale of young love is broken up by a series of musical interludes.  False Slag is a four-piece band with guitar, bass, drums and vocals, who perform punk rock and hard-core songs.  There is an obvious contrast with the lush vocals and acoustic guitar from Annie Callahan (who performs music written by The Dandelion Few). Quite how these three disparate strands tie together is not entirely clear, as the lyrics of the songs bear no relationship to the story. The music is instead used to break up the tale, giving the mind something else to focus on. There is some interaction between the band and the actor, as they add sound effects and even occasionally act out small parts of the action. Some of the most carefree moments are when actor Georgia Cooney dances with musician Annie Callahan to the music of False Slag. It’s a diverse night of music and theatre that gives the audience three quite different acts all for the one ticket price!

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