A Well Crafted Pair of Shoes. An NAYD Young Critics Review by Marie Lynch

mainManInTheWomansShoes

In the run up to NAYD’s Young Critics Panel on Sunday Oct 4th 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. The second in our series of reviews looks at The Man In The Woman’s Shoes by Mikel Murfi 

The Man in the Woman’s Shoes by Mikel Murfi

Loco and Restless Productions (production originally commissioned by the Hawk’s Well Theatre and Sligo County Arts Office)

Backstage Theatre Longford

Reviewed by Marie Lynch

Don’t take the title too literally! This play, written, directed and performed by Mikel Murfi, is not simply about a man in women’s footwear. Rather it gives us a look into one person’s enlightening, endearing life. I’m not one to usually enjoy one-man show as I think they can feel more like a recitation than a play with little or no action. However, during this performance I was completely immersed.

Set in rural Ireland in 1978, the play focuses on Pat Farnon, a country cobbler. We see him make a simple five-mile journey to town and back. We meet a wide variety of colourful characters along the way such as the iconoclastic Kitsy Rainey and conventional Huby Patterson. But the hook of this play is – Pat Farnon cannot talk. Instead of hearing him converse with others, we hear his thoughts, hopes and aspirations.

I admired Murfi’s characterization and ability to change from one character to another in a split second. It was visually pleasing and never hard to follow and understand which character was speaking.

Mikel Murfi in

Mikel Murfi in “The Man in the Woman’s Shoes.” Credit Vitaliy Piltser

The characters were perfectly scripted and you felt as if you were actually meeting locals from the town. The story was simple and told with good old Irish humour but never felt cheesy. It had a nostalgic feel which strongly affected the audience. Pat’s enthusiasm for life radiated onto the spectators continually throughout his ups and downs.

The set was bare. The lights were kept to a minimum and the only sound effects were made by Murfi himself who can play a very convincing dog. The design overall could have been perhaps expanded but for me it worked the way it was. The decision to keep the staging of the production so minimalistic was a clever device as it in turn reflected Pat’s simple life. This added to the play on a whole.

While this play had no complex plotline, it was full of life lessons and I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it ultimately uplifting. Murfi had a continual optimistic outlook and celebrated the life of ordinary people. It is a play for all ages and all walks of life. The play hooks you in from start to finish and I would highly recommend it.

Marie Lynch is a member of Backstage Youth Theatre and an NAYD Young Critic 2015.

Backstage Theatre Longford kindly supported this event.

Local Arts Centres and Venues Support NAYD’s Young Critics

Hello Venue Managers,

As you probably know the Young Critics is one of NAYD’s most popular programmes. Every year sixteen young people from across Ireland are selected to take part in the programme. Typically this involves two residential weekends each year in which the Young Critics get to see up to five professional theatre productions, participate in many workshops around the art of criticism and then take part in a public panel discussion as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival. NAYD fully subsidises all costs for the participants.

Last year we piloted some new and exciting angles to the Young Critics Programme and were able to expand the Young Critics programme beyond those lucky sixteen that get to take part.

Through a partnership approach we are involving more young people in their local communities, developing stronger relationships between venues and youth theatres and helping to build and sustain local audiences for theatre in that community.

Photo credit Allen Kiely

NAYD Young Critics 2014

We are approaching local Arts Centres and venues to come on board to help support the development of the Young Critics.

Between now and the end of May we are asking the Young Critics to become programmers and select one professional production that they feel they and their fellow youth theatre members might enjoy. With the support of their youth theatre leader they will then organize a theatre trip to a professional production in their local Arts Centre or venue.

We are asking venues to include their local Young Critics on their mailing lists and also offer them two complimentary tickets to a suitable professional production in their venue between now and then.

It is also hoped that the venue could offer each youth theatre a Special Youth Theatre Group Rate to that performance. You probably already have this in place anyway it is the perfect opportunity to introduce one.

The Young Critics will then do a short video blog on the piece they saw and submit it to NAYD. From here, four of them will be invited to write reviews for the Young Critics Blog.

These reviews will then be published and freely available to all.

The benefits are huge for all involved. The venues will be building new audiences and all the young people will get to see even more quality theatre at discount prices. This should encourage them to go and see more theatre and broaden their love and knowledge of the art form. As cost is one of the biggest factors in not attending theatre we believe that once the spark is ignited, and there is an added incentive to attend, they will choose to go to more and more performances over the coming years. This will also have a very a major positive impact on how they make their own theatre.

All partner venues will be fully credited on the NAYD website and will be thanked in person on the day of the Young Critics Panel during the Dublin Theatre Festival.

If you had any insights on how we could make this offer more attractive or any other insights you might have we would welcome your input.

This has already proven to be a really worthwhile departure for the programme and one that we would hope to develop and establish over the coming years.

We look forward to working with you this year.

Update

The response from venues has been amazing. We are adding to it daily. So far the venues that have come on board to support the initiative are:

The Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge, Co. Kildare

Project Arts Centre, Dublin

The Dock, Carrick On Shannon, Co. Leitrim

Civic Theatre Tallaght, Dublin

Backstage Theatre, Longford

Axis Ballymun, Dublin

Friars’ Gate Theatre & Arts, Kilmallock, Co.Limerick

The New Theatre, Dublin

 Visual Centre For Contemporary Art & The George Bernard Shaw Theatre, Carlow