Young Critics with NAYD

NAYD Young Critic and Droichead YT member Thomas Caffrey gives us his insight to his first weekend with Young Critics

Droichead Youth Theatre Online

This week we have guest writer Thomas Caffrey, regaling his experiences as part of NAYD’s Young Critics programme!

When I first heard about the Young Critics earlier this year, I must say that i was intrigued to say the least. Free tickets to major productions and free accommodation in Dublin? Count me in! An important question I sook the answer to was; “what is a critic?” Not a miserable pile of secrets surely? Surely there is more to the tradition than simple miserablism?

We as a group met on the Friday by the GPO and absconded hastily to the Marino Institute(nowhere near as sinister as it sounds) where we participated in a workshop outlining the basics of “criticism” and what exactly it means. Is criticism just spewing hatred indiscriminately? Is it simply the dissection of a piece of art? The second definition may be a little more correct- it is…

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Ganesh Vs The Third Reich

An Epic Trilogy of Reviews about an Epic Weekend of Theatre comes to a conclusion with Andy Vs. Ganesh Vs. The Third Reich

Droichead Youth Theatre Online

Andy McLoughlin’s epic trilogy of reviews concludes with Ganesh Vs. The Third Reich, by Back to Back Theatre, seen with the Young Critics programme as part of this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival.

meta
A term, especially in art, used to characterize something that is characteristically self-referential.
-Urban Dictionary

Andy Vs. Ganesh Vs. The Third Reich

In a weekend filled with weird plays, it seemed fitting to end it with a play that was really two normal plays. The first storyline of Ganesh Vs. The Third Reich tells the story of the Hindu god of overcoming obstacles (oh how symbolic!) trekking through Eastern Europe on a quest to reclaim the symbol of the Swastika from Nazi Germany. This story is interspersed with scenes showing a sort of “Making of the Show” in which we’re given a fictionalised account of the production’s story from start to grizzly end. As the play progresses…

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The Seagull and Other Birds

In the second of his reviews, Droichead Youth Theatre’s own Andy McLoughlin gives us his own insight on Pan Pan’s production from the recent DTF. Andy was one of NAYD’s Young Critics for 2014

Droichead Youth Theatre Online

In this, the darker, edgier sequel to last week’s blog, Andy McLoughlin reviews PanPan theatre’s adaptation of the Chekov classic, “The Seagull”, titled “The Seagull and Other Birds”, seen with the Young Critics programme as part of this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival

Anton Chekov was a highly popular Russian comedy writer in the nineteenth century. People would come to his shows from miles around to be made laugh by his shows. Unfortunately, tastes have changed and his plays, if performed as originally intended, probably wouldn’t elicit the same reactions today.  Some people would argue that performing these shows directly translated, exactly as performed at the time isn’t the best way to honour his memory, and instead what is important is to reflect the spirit and intentions of his original work, comedy and all.  To these people I say “Balderdash!” The only correct way to recreate a text is with pedantic…

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Heartbreak House – A Review by NAYD’S Young Critics

In the run up to NAYD’s Young Critics Panel on Oct 5th as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival, we continue to publish a series of reviews from the Young Critics.

Over the summer months,we asked the Young Critics to attend some shows on their own. We asked them to make a short vlog review of their experience. We then asked a selection of them to turn these into written reviews. Dr. Karen Fricker offered some editorial advice.

So with less than a week to go to the Young Critic’s Panel, Catriona Quigley reviews Heartbreak House 

Heartbreak House by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Roisin McBrinn

Performed by Lisa Dwyer Hogg, Nick Dunning, Kathy Kiera Clarke, Brendan Conroy, Marcus Lamb, Mark Lambert, Aislin McGuckin, Chris McHallem, Don Wycherley, and Barbara Brennan

Sets by Alyson Cummins, lighting by Paul Keogan, Costumes by Niamh Lunny, music and sound design by Philip Stewart

Viewed on August 21st 2014 at the Abbey Theatre

Reviewed by Caitriona Quigley

Heartbreak House: the name seems to imply anything but good-naturedness. At the same time, though, period dramas bring guilty pleasure for many, particularly now that Downton Abbey is so popular. And I’ve never studied George Bernard Shaw at all. Given all this, it was hard to know what to expect from the Abbey’s production – but I found myself sitting transfixed.

Shaw set his scene in 1914, just before the outbreak of the First World War, ensuring a plenitude of satirical jabs at the expense of the affluent upper classes who confined themselves to their trivial problems as the world changed around them.

 

Mark Lambert (Captain Shotover), Aislín McGuckin (Lady Ariadne Utterword), Kathy Kiera Clarke (Hesione Hushabye), Lisa Dwyer Hogg (Ellie Dunn) and Nick Dunning (Hector Hushabye) in Heartbreak House by Bernard Shaw, directed by Róisín McBrinn. Photo by Sarah Doyle.

Mark Lambert (Captain Shotover), Aislín McGuckin (Lady Ariadne Utterword), Kathy Kiera Clarke (Hesione Hushabye), Lisa Dwyer Hogg (Ellie Dunn) and Nick Dunning (Hector Hushabye) in Heartbreak House by Bernard Shaw, directed by Róisín McBrinn. Photo by Sarah Doyle.

The play concerns a colourful cast of characters who congregate for a country weekend at the dwelling of the surly yet outspoken Captain Shotover, played with appropriate gusto by Mark Lambert. Shotover has been estranged from his younger daughter Ariadne (Aislin McGuckin) for 23 years — yet she seethes when both the Captain and her eccentric sister Hesione (Kathy Keira Clarke) fail to recognize her. Hesione, meanwhile, has invited her friend, Ellie Dunn (the excellent Lisa Dwyer Hogg) to stay for the weekend. When Ellie arrives with her father and her fiancé in tow, she reveals that she’s had her head turned by a mysterious man, who as it transpires, may be a little too familiar to some of the guests…

I admired how Shaw deconstructs various archetypes often found in period dramas, such as the naïve young maiden, the crotchety patriarch, and the well-meaning best friend. The play’s central theme is deceit, and no character ended up to be as they appeared at the play’s outset. The characters and the audience are simultaneously strung along by this deceit, which paves the way for a literally explosive conclusion!

 

Aislín McGuckin (Lady Ariadne Utterword), Nick Dunning (Hector Hushabye) and Mark Lambert (Captain Shotover) in Heartbreak House by Bernard Shaw, directed by Róisín McBrinn. Photo by Sarah Doyle.

Aislín McGuckin (Lady Ariadne Utterword), Nick Dunning (Hector Hushabye) and Mark Lambert (Captain Shotover) in Heartbreak House by Bernard Shaw, directed by Róisín McBrinn. Photo by Sarah Doyle.

Heartbreak House, is, at times, an incredibly complex production to follow. I can’t count how many times my mum and I exchanged expressions of confusion about how the plot swerved in many directions, often with no prior warning. Yet, the dazzling set by Alyson Cummins, the actors’ impeccable comic timing and exquisite costumes by Niamh Lunny ensure that this production is, at its best, a genuinely enticing piece of theatre.

In conclusion, we found that Shaw’s razor-sharp wit and jovial banter made for insightful and pleasant viewing. Very highly recommended!

Catriona Quigley is a member of M.A.D Youth Theatre, Dundalk and an NAYD Young Critic for 2014

Well Worth Five Minutes Of Your Time

In the run up to NAYD’s Young Critics Panel on Oct 5th as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival, we will be publishing a series of reviews from the Young Critics.

Over the summer months we asked the Young Critics to attend some shows in their own home venue. We asked them to make a short vlog review of the experience. We then asked a selection of them to turn these into written reviews. Dr. Karen Fricker offered some editorial advice.

With three weeks to go to the Young Critic’s Panel Andy McLoughlin reviews Five Minutes Later  

 

5 Minutes Later, By Ellen Flynn, directed by Marc Atkinson
Performed by Bob Kelly, Nichola McEvilly, Manus Halligan, and Sophie Jo Wasson
Set and lighting design by Colm McNally
Sound Design by Osgar Dukes
Costume Design by Mary Sheehan
Viewed on August 30th at The Lir
Review by Andy McLoughlin

Ellen Flynn's Five Minutes Later, presented by Sugarglass Theatre Company

Ellen Flynn’s Five Minutes Later, presented by Sugarglass Theatre Company

The plot of Ellen Flynn’s new play is certainly a familiar one: four twenty-something strangers meet at a speed-dating night and become entangled in a strange love quadrangle while struggling with fidelity, friendship and loyalty. Given all the familiar tropes and superficial philosophy associated with these kinds of plays, Flynn’s talent is in resisting those clichés. Rather than presenting us with archetypes and then subverting them, we’re shown complex characters who resist being reduced to archetypes in the first place. There are no good or bad people in these relationships, only ambiguous choices made by flawed people to ambiguous ends. The play attempts to show our collective social network for what it really is: normal people navigating a world that isn’t.

The difficult themes of vanity, objectification and secrecy are captured well by the design elements of the play. The set, which at times takes up the entire width of the already small stage, is comprised of four door-frame-sized two-way mirrors which move through the space on tracks. At the best of times they serve to frame the action of the play, surrounding the characters and forcing them to confront themselves or allowing them to judge each other from behind a reflective screen. Occasionally though, it seems there’s a tendency to manipulate these mirrors just so they don’t go to waste. This endless fluidity disorients and induces fatigue as often as it heightens the drama.

In some cases, the non-stop movement on stage fits nicely into the hectic and sometimes surreal nature of the play. As for the plot itself, things are a little more muddled. The lion’s share of the play is effectively a highlights reel of the four characters’ relationships as they go from strangers to lovers and back again.  As the show’s title suggests, the concept of time is a loose one and we often see these relationships grow and change without any real indication of how much time has passed, which leads to some confusion. The plot is further convoluted by hectic dreamlike interludes and even in the most intimate moments, we’re distracted by the actors manipulating the set around them to change the space.

It’s in returning to the more real, albeit complicated interactions between these four friends/foes/lovers that Atkinson’s talent really shines through. With the help of a great cast of characters and actors (Nichola McEvilly being the MVP as a desperate housewife seeking escape), speed, distance and emotions are all explored in their fullest range to give a dizzying sense of drama in the lives of these characters. Whatever about surreal interludes and unpredictable plot pacing, this is ultimately a play that feels as strange and immediate to us in the audience as it does to those on stage. And that is no small feat.

Andy McLoughlin is a member of Droichead Youth Theatre and a participant on NAYD’s Young Critics Programme 2014

SWING SWUNG INTO ACTION FROM THE FIRST WORD

In the run up to NAYD’s Young Critics Panel on Oct 5th as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival, we will be publishing a series of reviews from the Young Critics.

Over the summer months we asked the Young Critics to attend some shows in their own home venue. We asked them to make a short vlog review of the experience. We then asked a selection of them to turn these into written reviews. Dr. Karen Fricker offered some editorial advice.

First up, Sophie Quin reviews Swing 

 

Swing by Steve Blount, Peter Daly, Gavin Kostick and Janet Moran, directed by Peter Daly
Performed by Steve Blount and Janet Moran
The Source Arts Centre, Thurles, County Tipperary, performance viewed on 26 June 2014
Review by Sophie Quin

 

Janet Moran and Steve Blount in Swing by Fishamble Theatre Co.

Janet Moran and Steve Blount in Swing by Fishamble Theatre Co.

“Is… Is this swing?”
And so from the first timid and engaging question put to the audience, Swing caught my attention as it danced into a familiar, yet new world. Not being a general admirer of dance shows (I find the lack of dialogue often compromises plot), I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.
In a swing dance class May (Janet Moran) and Joe (Steve Blount) meet for the first time. Their lives have stalled and they can’t decide what to do next. The class offers them an escape from the ordinary, to move on from the past, and possibly to live their lives anew. Drawing on the familiar issues of recession, divorce, emigration, love, changing your mind, and the omnipresent risk of failure, Swing retained a deep-rooted and quintessentially Irish style, as it mixed the serious with the comical and used humour as a possible solution to life’s problems.

Throughout the class we’re introduced to an array of characters: moody dance instructors, terrorised beginners, old lovers, and veteran swing dancers, each bringing their own stories to the stage. The actors swop characters multiple times by yelling “change places,” often at awkward moments; with a gesture, voice or posture they become a different person before your eyes. At times the transitions were so rapid that it appeared that there were far more than two performers onstage. Each character retained their own personality, even if some were slightly stereotypical. For instance the “foreign girl” was definitely foreign, and it was obvious that another character was homosexual from the cliché way they spoke and moved. Yet this was easily carried and probably necessary since there was such a varied range of characters. Blount and Moran interpreted each character with great flair. The direction by Peter Daly ensured the performance was crisp and elegant, but could also incorporate the gut-wrenching awkwardness of an argument taken too far. The show was funny but not tactless: none of the gags were out of context.

Fishamble has once again shown that it is at the forefront of new playwriting in Ireland. Swing is part of the company’s Show in a Bag scheme, in which all props and costumes are required to be kept to a minimum so performances can be scaled up to fill a large venue, or down to fit into a small tightly-squeezed café. This economical design meant, in the case of Swing, that focus was on performance and not an overly distracting set, which consisted of two chairs, a bag, a bicycle helmet, water bottles, a disco ball, and the costumes.
Whether you interpret Swing as an analysis of who and what we are rihgt now in Ireland, or as a jovial comedy about ordinary lives and the beginnings of friendship, it is a play that showcases much that is exciting and innovative in performance today. When the disco ball flashed into life, reflecting across the venue, I too was swept up into this ordinary yet extraordinary world. If you get a chance swing along to see this great and effective piece of contemporary Irish theatre.

 

Sophie Quin is a member of Fracture Youth Theatre in Tipperary and an NAYD Young Critic for 2014

NAYD’S Young Critics programme

Some great Insights from Andy McLoughlin, who was one of sixteen Young Critics for 2014.

Droichead Youth Theatre Online

This week we are fighting fit and back in action, with an account of NAYD’s Young Critics weekend by Andy McLoughlin!

 

The Young Critics Workshop took place last weekend over the course of three days and there’s a lot to talk about so I suppose the best place to start is at the start.

About two months ago, after drama, a senior DYT member came in to talk to us about this Young Critics programme in Dublin she had been to. You go see two plays over the course of 3 days in April and again in October. Accommodation and food would be provided and you would get classes on how to analyse theatrical productions. It seemed strange at first to be learning about theatre outside the context of actually being involved, but the idea appealed to me. I knew almost nothing about theatre compared to my almost embarrassing…

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