Gold in the Water – Project Arts Centre – Review

Gold in the Water – Project Arts Centre – Review
by Frank L.

Until the 25th of March

The advertising material claims that “Gold in the Water is a quirky, funny, life-affirming extravaganza for musical theatre lovers, thrill-seeking pet-owners, and audiences young and old” which creates a mighty challenge.

To start with the music there is a four-piece band of Danny Forde (Guitar), Cameron Macaulay (Drums), Brian Walsh (Keyboard) and Courtney Cullen (Violin).  They are situated stage left towards the back of the stage perched on a raised platform. The set is circular on which sits an arc shape structure which will be used in multiple ways throughout the performance. It is a flexible and imaginative set by Maree Kearns.

The two principal characters are Harvey (Domhnall Herdman) and Bart (Matthew Malone), two young men who are deeply in love and celebrating one year of marriage. The two are brightly dressed and somewhat flamboyant in nature. Present for the festivities are Bart’s Mum, Rosaleen (Fiona Browne), along with neighbours Tom (Oliver Flitcroft) and Sandra (Rachel O’Byrne), and a friend Deirdre (Kate Gilmore) who is a children’s party entertainer.

The next morning after the festivities have come to an end, a goldfish arrives ‘out of the blue’ on their doorstep.  There is no note attached and they have no idea who left the fish in the location. What seems like a small change to their world becomes a major source of disruption between the couple, which eventually starts to threaten their happy union.

The other character not mentioned to this point is the owner of the local pet shop, which operates under the name of Peternal Love. Clare Barrett plays the store owner as a straight-talking woman who loves pets and hates humans! She is a fine creation which Barrett brings to life with her perfect sense of timing. There are also a variety of pets in the store, including a cockatoo (Fiona Browne), a mouse (Kate Gilmore), a terrapin (Oliver Flitcroft) and a rabbit (Rachel O’Byrne) who populate the stage at various times.

Another character who briefly appears is a younger version of Bart, played by Harley Cullen Walsh (and Mark Keegan) who shows off his considerable boyhood dramatic expertise.

Ronan Phelan’s direction keeps everything moving at a merry clip with various members of the cast moving parts of the set to create seamlessly the numerous scene changes.  Catherine Fay’s costumes are striking when worn by Harvey and Bart and innovative when representing the various animals. Kate Gilmore’s costumes as Deirdre are a particular highlight, as she attends her kid’s parties dressed as a carrot and ‘a weather front’, among other creations.

There are sixteen songs in all and the band worked almost continuously throughout. While the cast sang their respective parts with aplomb sadly there is no tune that hums away in the brain and a few are overly long such as the opening number.

There are many impressive moments in this work, with colourful clothing, cheerful songs and laughter which are perfect for a younger audience. Whereas other moments seemed aimed at an older audience and felt out of place. A note on the Project website says that the play is suitable for those aged 8 years and older, and with only a small number of alterations it could have easily been aimed at the full family, which may help the piece find a larger audience. Its humour and whimsy could find a place in the hearts of many a child. It’s a  massive task to create a new musical and while this piece doesn’t always gel, it shows much promise, talent and ingenuity.

Created by Shane O’Reilly with Paul Curley
Composed by Denis Clohessy and Directed by Ronan Phelan


Pet Shop Owner: Clare Barrett
Rosaleen: Fiona Browne
Boy Bart: Harley Cullen Walsh
Tom: Oliver Flitcroft
Deirdre: Kate Gilmore
Harvey: Domhnall Herdman
Boy Bart: Mark Keegan
Bart: Matthew Malone
Sandra: Rachel O’Byrne


Violin: Courtney Cullen
Piano: Danny Forde
Bass: Cameron Macaulay
Drums: Brian Walsh

Creative Team

Book & Lyrics: Shane O’Reilly
Co-writer: Paul Curley
Composer: Denis Clohessy
Director: Ronan Phelan
Choreography & Movement Direction: Philip Connaughton
Set Design: Maree Kearns
Costume Design: Catherine Fay
Lighting Designer: Sarah Jane Shiels
Music Director: Danny Forde

Production Manager: Eamonn Fox
Stage Managers: Leo McKenna/Sarah Purcell
Assistant Stage Manager: Mela Sulowska

Costume Supervisor: Cherie White
Hair & Makeup: Val Sherlock
Costume Maintenance: Eimear Regan

Audio Engineer: Iain Faulkner
Audio Operator: John Norton

Lighting Operator: Orla Kelly-Smith
Lighting Technician: Ben Downes

Chaperone: Lucy Richards-Smyrk

Producer: Pádraig Heneghan/Lovano
Assistant Producer: Ois O’Donoghue
Marketing & PR: Aileen Galvin/Sync & Swim
Publicity: Ann-Marie Sheehan/Sync & Swim
Social Media Manager: Lisa Nally
Website & Video Content: Bekah Molony/Caught Up Creatives
Designer: Pete Reddy/Redman AKA
Photo Credits: Ros Kavanagh

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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