Coffee Kid – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review

Coffee Kid – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review
by Brian Merriman

Performances: 21, 23 & 24 September – 18:00, €13/€11

Other Performances: 22 September, 13:00 & 20:00, 23 September, 13:00 – €13/€11
Venue: Bewley’s Café Theatre

‘Coffee Kid’ is a short theatrical comedy joy. It’s a simple, clever concept, with a bizarre scenario that would defeat many to engage an audience for 50 minutes. Síomha McQuinn not only engages, she enthrals in her intelligent simplicity and relates a deliciously implausible feast of comic theatre. She didn’t just get her audience laughing, they roared with laughter.

She has a childlike simplicity in her stage presence, and an earnest appeal in her storytelling that masters the comic art form. Together with co-writer Sykes, they spin an adventurous tale of being different.

Our hero ‘Beanie’ is different. Her head looks like a coffee capsule and as the story unfolds, her idolatry of George Clooney, her spoofing of his brand identities and the unique on-stage presence of her Mother, motor this comedy along as we journey through a romp about identity, family, first love and courage. The staging is wonderfully simplistic, ably assisted by the timing and ‘puppetry’ of Quinton O’Reilly. It produces one of the most memorable stagings of a full-throated choir I have seen. McQuinn is a joy to watch. Her timing and delivery beguile her audience from start to finish.

This play with some music was first developed in the Scene and Heard Festival, the latest rare start-up theatre festival to lose Arts Council funding, at a time it is awash with funds to support the arts to recover.

When you see ‘Coffee Kid’, you will realise how vital real ‘Fringe’ festivals are to create a space and often the first opportunity for new voices in theatre to be heard. Theatre dies unless there is a cohort of people willing to take a risk and support new voices to be and to learn. McQuinn (whose character heads for university) is proof that many a theatre ‘graduate’ benefits hugely from these rare first step opportunities. ‘Coffee Kid’ is well worth a visit. It is pure joy from start to finish. The axing of the scarce opportunities for artists to perform and develop in starter festivals makes me realise it is past time for this Arts Council to wake up and ‘smell the coffee’. There is a rich new brew being served in Bewleys this week. Enjoy!

‘Coffee Kid’ is written and performed by Síomha McQuinn,
Written and directed by Jamie Sykes,
Produced by Robbie Doyle,
Puppeteer: Quinton O’Reilly,
Lighting design by Colm Maher and Developed at Scene + Heard.

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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