The Fall of the Second Republic – A Review by Ruairí Phelan

The 2020 iteration of Young Critics, has like most events globally, been deeply affected by the COVID19 pandemic. This upcoming weekend of April 17- 19th would have been our first weekend together as Young Critics.

So instead of bringing our group to Dublin for their first weekend, we will be running a selection of their initial reviews.

These reviews were submitted as part of their Young Critics application. As such, they represent the first steps on their Young Critics journey. We hope you enjoy them.

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The Fall Of The Second Republic. Photo Credit: Ros Kavanagh

Our third Young Critic is Ruairí Phelan from Dublin Youth Theatre. Here he turns his attention to The Fall of the Second Republic by Michael West in collaboration with Annie Ryan. It ran from Feb 24th and recently finished its run at The Abbey Theatre .

The Fall of the Second Republic by Michael West and Annie Ryan aims to cover a lot in two hours. Created in collaboration with the award-winning Corn Exchange, the play is typical of the company’s style (picture heavy makeup, exaggerated movement, and dark eyebrows drawn in symbols resembling a Nike tick).

Set in 70s Ireland the play centres on a threat to the much loved The Theatre Royale, and a plot to destroy it to make way for the International Banking Centre (IBC). When a protester against the demolition is caught and killed inside a mysterious fire at the theatre, and the government is linked to the blaze, there’s uproar.

In the aftermath, our heroine – journalist Emer Hackett (Caitriona Ennis) – investigates Taoiseach Manny Spillane (Andrew Bennett) and his colleagues who many suspect are linked to the deadly fire.

Confused? I was, and it’s all a little busy with so many topics, as the play struggles to find its central theme, jumping around heavyweight issues including sexism, abortion, corruption and Irish/British relations.

But there are many triumphs, and The Abbey lives up to its recent promise to better reflect Irish life and culture. Meanwhile the talented cast give impressive performances and effortlessly transport us to the 70s helped by Sailéog O’Halloran’s clever costumes and Katie Davenport’s wonderful set.

There are great lines, and delicious parallels to contemporary political post-election wrangling: “A coalition with the wankers?” laments one member of the losing majority party, “It would be like marrying your cousins.”

Leo Varadkar might agree.

Ruairí Phelan is a member of Dublin Youth Theatre and a Youth Theatre Ireland Young Critic for 2020.

Ruairí Phelan is a performer, writer, and proud member of Dublin Youth Theatre where he gained entry through audition two years ago.

Ruairí, 16, has been acting since he was six and acting up since he was born! His recent productions include Primo Dolce as part of DYT’s Members One-Act Festival and The Sleepwalkers — Dublin Theatre Festival and Pan Pan Theatre. As well, he is Assistant Director for two plays and recently won a week training scheme at The Abbey.

He’s a keen videographer and enjoys listening to podcasts and messing around in GarageBand. He’s a terrible dancer but gives it a lash anyway. Ruairi loves all form of theatre. He has too many favourite plays and writers to list but considers seeing any work an honour and is looking forward to analysing theatre in-depth to discover what works and what doesn’t. He hopes this will help to make his own work better.

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