NEXT PLEASE... – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review
by Frank L.
Next Please… Written by Aisling O’Mara
Directed by Iseult Golden
Featuring Hazel Clifford and Aisling O’Mara
August 22 – September 10, 2022 – Time: 1pm
The play originally saw the light of day in St. Stephen’s Green as part of Bewley’s Walkabout outdoor shows in 2021. Having been nominated for Best New Play by the Irish Times Theatre Awards, it now returns to Bewley’s Cafe Theatre as a lunchtime show. The charming set (by Andrew Murray) admirably reflects the ambience of a city centre public park with its wooden structure reminiscent of a bandstand together with a simple bench placed in front of it.
Joe (Hazel Clifford) is the first to appear as she awaits the arrival of Melissa (Aisling O’Mara). She discusses her dysfunctional family and her supportive relationship with her Nana around whom she has built her life. She works in Tescos and has done so since she left school. She loves it. She describes in some detail how she came to meet Melissa in her place of work. They have now agreed to meet in the park but Melissa is a little late and Joe texts her to say that she will be back in a couple of minutes. Melissa then arrives and tells the audience about her life to date, which has now hit a major rock. When Joe returns they discover after some misunderstandings that they have a great deal in common.
O’Mara’s script throughout is razor sharp. As it grapples with the awkward parts of each woman’s story. It is leavened by a fine peppering of jokes and comic turns of phrase. Both actors in their monologues and in their dialogue show considerable variation of pace and tone which ensures that the uncertainties which both suffer from are articulated subtly. The moments of awkwardness and embarrassment are dissipated by a text with uses humour throughout. O’Mara and Clifford combine as a fine pair of jousting partners and together they ensure that the story of the two women is told with confidence.
This is a fun piece of lunchtime theatre which brings the audience on an entertaining journey through the lives of the two women as each tries to come to terms with themselves. The journeys of each are different and their lives are enriched by getting to know each other. In short, this is a well-written play acted by two fine emerging actors that is a joy to see.