The Glass Menagerie & Medea – Two Classic Gate Theatre productions. Reviewed by Young Critics Katie Lacey Curtis & Marc Cheevers

Continuing our series of reviews by this year’s Young Critics, we turn our attention to Dublin’s Gate Theatre. Known for its repertoire of classics, the 2019/ 2020 season saw productions of Tennesse Williams’ 1944 The Glass Menagerie alongside a new version of Medea by Kate Mulvany & Anna Louise Sarks after Euripides.

 

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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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Katie Lacey Curtis from Making Waves Youth Theatre, Greystones, Co Wicklow, reviews Medea.

Recently I saw Medea at the Gate Theatre and it has quickly set itself as one of my favourite performances.

I was unsure of the play at the beginning as it was very static as the boys ‘played dead’ for about five minutes, but I was awoken when they began to play again, their energy filling the room as they ran around the stage as they played. Medea herself only appeared for around 20 minutes of the play in total, each time appearing more frantic and distraught than the last, which greatly added to the suspense as we were not the wiser as to when she would murder them.

The two boys were the perfect embodiment of the two brothers and whilst they fought we saw not long after how much they cared for each other and really got on. The boys singing ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ brought a tear to my and many other’s eyes as we knew they would not live to be adults.

The use of set and lights also worked amazingly. As the boys passed in Medea’s arms the lights dimmed leaving a plethora of ‘stars’ behind them.

However, I did find that following Medea’s final monologue the play ended very abruptly, leaving little time for the room to breath and her last words to ring out.

Katie Lacey Curtis is a member of Making Waves Youth Theatre and a Youth Theatre Ireland Young Critic for 2020.

Katie has been a member of Making Waves Youth Theatre for 3 years since its founding in 2017. During these years she has taken part in both of their 2 shows and taken part in many workshops focusing on improvisation, movement and script work, as well as writing. She is looking forward to seeing a large range of shows, learning more about criticism in theatre and then getting the opportunity to properly critique them.

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Marc Cheevers from Explore Youth Theatre, Leixlip, Co.Kildare turns his eye to The Glass Menagerie.

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The Glass Menagerie by Tennesse Williams

Last year, my youth theatre viewed a play called The Glass Menagerie in the Gate Theatre. It was a very well made production with each scene not only capturing my interest but also my curiosity. Its concept was simple. A family in 1940s America but the sister was crippled, so the family had to look out for her. The accents were quite solid, sometimes their natural accents would slip through but other than that, the acting was quite good. The costumes well suited the period and there was an excellent use of music. In the end, the family has torn apart and I cannot deny that I didn’t shed a tear. Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable piece and I would see it again.

Marc Cheevers is a member of Explore Youth Theatre and a Youth Theatre Ireland Young Critic for 2020.

Marc has been a member of Explore Youth Theatre for 1 1/2 years. He has been involved in a number of productions and improvised pieces. He is looking forward to viewing more productions and improving his critique skills.

 

Rough Magic’s Much Ado About Nothing reviewed by Máiréad Phelan

The 2020 iteration of Young Critics, has like most events globally, been deeply affected by the COVID19 pandemic.

Usually, at this time of year, we are all buzzing with Young Critics excitement. Our group would have met for the first time and had a great weekend together in Dublin.  As spring moves towards summer, the group would begin thinking about some of the great shows they could see in their local venues and start to make their critical reviews. None of that will happen this year.

In an effort to share the Young Critics experience with our readers we are 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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Rough Magic Theatre Company’s Much Ado About Nothing. Photo Credit: Ste Murray

Our next Young Critic is Máiréad Phelan. She is member of Free Radicals Youth Theatre, based at Siamsa Tíre Theatre, Tralee, Co.Kerry.  Here she reviews Rough Magic Theatre Company’s touring production of Much Ado About Nothing. 

Towards the end of last year, on the 9th of November 2019, in the Siamsa Tíre Theatre in Tralee, Co. Kerry, I saw Rough Magic’s production of Much Ado About Nothing. It was very well advertised play; with an almost full house on the night I attended, with people of various age groups filling up the seats of the theatre.

At first, I was apprehensive of going. Shakespeare plays, to me, always seemed like drab, dull affairs due to my only experience being that of my Leaving Cert and Junior Cert required Shakespeare play, but Rough Magic blew me away with their incredible performance of Much Ado About Nothing.

Rough Magic took a modern approach to the classic drama-comedy, setting it in a colourful summer caravan park, with the character’s costume and roles updated for the modern era. This was, admittedly, a strange contrast to the Shakespearean English they were using, but I felt it just added to the wonderful, absurd humour that ran throughout the play.

Absurd, loud, colourful, and humorous seemed to be the main components of this play and the talented actors in Rough Magic pulled it off brilliantly. It was a crude and wacky play, with the introduction of outfits for the male actors and a hilarious dream sequence in which a character, Benedick, looses, his *ahem* Bene-dick. The prop they used, of course, was a sausage.

With a less talented cast, the script may have come across as too corny or in-your-face, but the talented actors in Rough Magic projected well, hit their lines and were wonderful both in the comedic scenes and the scenes that carried a bit more dramatic weight.

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Rough Magic Theatre Company’s Much Ado About Nothing. Photo Credit: Ste Murray

Two characters, who were both a comedic and a dramatic centrepiece, in my opinion, were Beatrice and the aforementioned Benedick. At the beginning of the play, both characters despised each other, but by the end, they were in deep love, though still bickered. The actors made this seem like a natural progression and were one of my favourite plot-threads in the play. It was hilarious and somehow, this entirely comedic play got me incredibly emotionally invested in the relationship and character dynamics.

Rough Magic’s Much Ado About Nothing was a gut-busting and surprisingly emotional play, with a highly talented cast. I would highly recommend both Rough Magic for its talented actors and clever use of modern settings, while Much Ado About Nothing for anyone looking for a feel-good play about love.

Máiréad Phelan. She is member of Free Radicals Youth Theatre and a Youth Theatre Ireland Young Critic for 2020.

Máiréad Phelan has been a member of Free Radicals Youth Theatre in Siamsa Tíre for 3 years now. During this time, she has done 6 stage performances and attended several workshops, centred on acting, writing and stage production. She immensely enjoys writing and does so in her (little) spare time. Mairead is looking forward to what she can learn from Young critics and to meet all new people who might share her interests, as well as seeing some hopefully interesting new shows.

Warhorse- Reviewed by Dylan Gallagher

The 2020 iteration of Young Critics, has like most events globally, been deeply affected by the COVID19 pandemic. So instead of bringing our group to Dublin for their first weekend together in April, 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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Credit: National Theatre

Next up, Dylan Gallagher, from Leitrim Youth Theatre Company Carrick On Shannon reviews The National Theatre’s Production of Warhorse. This production toured to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in April 2019.

 

 

 

Dylan Gallagher is a member of Leitrim Youth Theatre Company – Carrick On Shannon and one of Youth Theatre Ireland’s Young Critics for 2020.

Dylan has been in Carrick-on-Shannon youth theatre for 3 years now. Joining Youth theatre was a surprise his parents organised for him, as they knew he had a huge interest in acting from a young age. In his first year of youth theatre, He played the main protagonist of Terry Dumpton in The terrible fate of Humpty Dumpty.

During this time he has done many workshops on improvisation, acting and poetry. Dylan kept practising these skills such as poetry and reached the All Ireland semi-final of Poetry Aloud. In the second year of drama, Carrick-on-Shannon youth theatre was selected to go to Playshare 2019 where they performed Beetroot By Lucy Montague Moffatt. He played the role of Mike, the local bully. Throughout the year Carrick-on-Shannon youth theatre had many workshops with other drama facilitators of local drama groups, here Dylan learned many new skills from the different areas they specialized in. The same year Dylan tried out a new programme called the creative arts group. Dylan learned a new creative skill each week such as storytelling, scriptwriting, lighting and sound. This year he is playing the role of the magician in All Out and Over by Christina Matthews.

Dylan has been a YouTuber for over a year now. He usually posts gaming clips but is hoping to start recording short sketches and upload them to his channel. He also streams on twitch where he uses games to create roleplay scenes and tell stories.

He is planning on launching a podcast on Spotify in the near future where he will talk about a range of different topics from ghost stories to teen news.

He’s hoping Young Critics will help with his Leaving Cert comparative study. He will learn how to compare shows to a high standard. It will also help him to be able to voice his opinions which he will use online and offline.

Youth Theatre Ireland Announce ‘Young Critics Online’

To celebrate the announcement of the 2020 panel of Young Critics, Youth Theatre Ireland presents Young Critics Online for young people aged 16 and over. You can enter by sending a review of a performance you have seen recently or of a performance that you view online.

Youth Theatre Ireland Announce ‘Young Critics Online’

 

Youth Theatre Ireland urges young people who would like to try their hand at reviewing to send in a written, video or audio review. Three selected reviews will be published on the Young Critics Blog and one reviewer will get to attend the Young Critics panel at Dublin Theatre Festival in October, plus 2 tickets to a show of the winners choice at the Festival. Full details of how to make a submission can be found here.

Announcing Young Critics Online, Youth Theatre Ireland’s Director, Michelle Carew said, “Given the surge in availability of high-quality online theatre in response to COVID-19, this is a great time to offer a taster of the Young Critics programme to young theatre lovers across the country. We want this to be fun, and would urge young people to be as inventive in their critical responses as they can.”

Currently companies around the world, from Broadway to Londons West End, to the Royal Shakespeare Company and Irish National Opera, are making their content available to watch online for free, so there are lots of performances from which to choose.

For tools to help you with your review check out the resources at youngcritics.eu. These resources are designed to support young people in developing their understanding of theatre and their abilities as theatre critics. Developed by the Youth Theatre team and the respected theatre critic Karen Fricker, all content here has been further enhanced through a partnership with Youth Theatre Arts Scotland, with inputs from Scottish practitioners and young people. Both young people and practitioners can interact with a variety of content including video, animations, downloadable workshop plans, review samples and tips from the experts.

Youth Theatre Ireland has delivered a Young Critics Programme for well over a decade to hundreds of young people. Selected reviews will be announced at YouthTheatre.ie and social media channels. Closing date is 30 April at 5pm.

For more information and to apply, download the Young Critics Online Submission Form here.

This initiative is open to all young people aged 16+,* who are resident of the Republic of Ireland. You do not have to be a member of a Youth Theatre Ireland affiliated youth theatre.

*Not open to current or former Young Critics.

Howie The Rookie – A Review by Heather Jones

The 2020 iteration of Young Critics, has like most events globally, been deeply affected by the COVID19 pandemic. So instead of bringing our group to Dublin for their first weekend together in April, 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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First up, Young Critic Heather Jones from Giant Wolf Youth Theatre reviews Howie The Rookie at the Civic Theatre in Tallaght. Presented by Glass Mask Theatre as part of a national tour, this review contains ***MAJOR SPOILERS*** for Howie The Rookie.

This delightfully emotional, witty, thought-provoking play by Mark O’Rowe is truly a sight to behold.

The play centres on two dual monologues – delivered by our main characters ‘the Howie Lee’ (Stephen Jones) and ‘the Rookie Lee’ (Rex Ryan), some of Ireland’s most exciting actors – taking the audience on an adventure of two individuals fighting for survival and meaning against a Dublin City pulsing with violence.

Some of the truly incredible elements of the show come in the form of delivery, lighting and sound design and its conspiracy ending.

The delivery by each actor is truly miraculous. The authenticity and immersive-ness of the performance allows for the play to envelop the audience in all elements of the plot, themes and believability of the characters. Even the delivery of the play’s major twists and turns are done so with ease by Jones and Rex. The physicality and recall of these extraordinary actors is unbelievable as well and is certainly commendable, admired and one of the most memorable attributes of the show.

But an actor can only be as good as their tools, and in this case the writing for this theatrical piece is remarkable. The play is structured in two acts, with each act as one monologue delivered by their respective character – Act One saw the ‘larger than life’, the Howie Lee, as the storyteller with Act Two, looking toward ‘the playboy’, the Rookie Lee, to pick up the torch. With each act capping in at nearly 50 minutes, the performances of Jones and Ryan are looked on with awe and admiration by their audience.

The lighting and sound design are other elements that resulted in such an incredible play. Due to set design – or lack thereof, with nothing but an empty stage for the actors to play with – every flicker of light or hum of a note was noticed by the eagle-eyed and elephant-eared viewer. All lighting arrangements were easily recognisable and clearly helped to establish the setting in the face-paced, ever-evolving story. Even the subtle music cues of soft filler music or cheesy love songs aided in the telling of a sensual, emotional story.

Finally, the mysterious ending. This is where the debate begins. What? That’s all I can say about it. Theories range from ‘he’s obviously dead’ to ‘it’s all in his head’. Regardless of what it all means, it truly is an intriguing ending. It is one that sticks with an audience as we are left to ponder and theorise, making the play memorable. For me personally, I would have liked a little more detail or sense of what it meant – as my friends and I were left flabbergasted and longed to know what the heck we had just seen. It definitely took a turn that both no one expected or understood.

Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the play and would encourage everyone to go and see it – but be warned, prepare to leave the theatre wondering what just happened.

Heather Jones is a member of Giant Wolf Youth Theatre and one of Youth Theatre Ireland’s Young Critics for 2020.

Heather has been a member of Giant Wolf Youth Theatre for just over a year.

She has loved every second of this experience and learned so much about herself and theatre as a whole. She has been involved in physical theatre, movement, stage combat, writing and general production workshops within her time in Giant Wolf. They, as a theatre, have done one major production called ‘Eggplant’, centred around teenage sexual relationships, sexual maturity and sexual education. She has participated in a European Youth Theatre Festival called ‘Intertwined’ in Cottbus, Germany.

Heather would love to gain more expertise and understanding of theatre from the Young Critics Programme. Having in-depth discussions is something she loves to do and getting to have those discussions on plays and theatre is like a dream come true for me. She’d love to become an actor or something within the world of drama when she’s older too and feels this programme will benefit her greatly.

She would also love to make new friends to last me a lifetime also. Getting to meet like-minded people who share common interests is always exciting and seldom seen. And seeing a few shows for free doesn’t sound too bad either.

Podcast- Young Critics Panel Discussion 2019

The 2019 Young Critics met on Sunday Oct 13th at Project Arts Centre, Dublin, to discuss three shows as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

Listen to the full panel discussion here:

 

 

 

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Panel One. L-R, Sean Loughrey, Grace Sheehan, Clodagh Boyce, Aisling O’Leary

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Panel Two, Kevin Alyward, Fern Kealy, Maebh Bartley, Adam Dwyer & Óisin Tiernan

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Panel Three, Ruth Corrigan, Jessie Flynn, Sinead Mooney, Jeanette Michalopoulou & Susie Murphy Dooley

Fern Kealy talks about her Young Critics Experience with Youth Theatre Ireland

Fern Kealy is one of Youth Theatre Ireland’s Young Critics for 2019.

Fern recalls an action-packed first weekend spent with fellow Young Critics in Dublin from April 12-14th.

Fern Kealy  is a member of Kilkenny Youth Theatre 

Our Young Critics 2019 are:

Kevin Aylward- Limerick Youth Theatre

Maeve Bartley – Co.Limerick Youth Theatre

Clodagh Boyce- Dublin Youth Theatre

Ruth Corrigan – Mayo Youth Theatre

Susie Dooley – County Carlow Youth Theatre

Adam Dwyer – County Carlow Youth Theatre

Leah Farrell – Backstage Youth Theatre, Longford

Jesse Flynn – Dublin Youth Theatre

Fern Kealy – Kilkenny Youth Theatre 

Seán Loughrey – Droichead Youth Theatre, Drogheda, Co.Louth

Jeanette Michalopoulou – Sligo Youth Theatre

Sinéad Mooney – Kildare Youth Theatre

Aisling O’Leary –Act Out Youth Theatre, Navan, Co.Meath

Grace Sheehan – Activate Youth Theatre, Cork

Holly Roynane –Act Out Youth Theatre, Navan, Co.Meath

Oisín Tiernan – WACT Youth Theatre, Wexford

Ulysses at the Abbey Theatre – Young Critic Review by Pippa Molony

It’s been a busy few months since the Young Critics last met in April as they have been honing their critical skills while seeing shows up and down the country.

With the Dublin Theatre Festival looming over the horizon, we reflect on some of the productions the Young Critics saw over the summer.

To whet your appetite for festival season, Young Critic Pippa Molony gives us this epic review of Ulysses at the Abbey Theatre

Elsewhere our Young Critics saw Pat Kinevane’s Silent, The Aspirations of Daise Morrow at the Black Box Theatre Galway, Asking for It and Wet Paint at the Everyman Cork, Mamma Mia on the West End, A Doll’s House at the Roscommon Arts Centre and the Deadly Wizard of Oz in Dundalk.

 We will be announcing the Young Critics picks for the Dublin Theatre Festival very soon along with details of the Panel discussion itself.

Pippa Molony is a member of Dublin Youth Theatre and a Youth Theatre Ireland Young Critic for 2018.

 

 

Young Critics Residential – A tale of Cheating, Robbery and Extortion by William McCabe

Two weeks ago, Youth Theatre members took their first steps towards becoming Young Critics.  Over the weekend of the 6th to the 8th of April, 16 youth theatre members met for the first time and bonded over a love of critical review.

After viewing two plays which sat at two very different ends of the performance art spectrum – The Unmanageable Sisters being a lighthearted comedy with a dark, fiery underbelly and Tryst being a heavy trip of stretched moral ambiguity and rapid-fire accusations, twists and reveals. But these plays were conjoined in topical themes – such as relationships and abortion – that left the budding critics fair ground to compare and discuss.

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Discussion ran rampant, with healthy engagement of differing views and opinions fueling debate and insightful commentary. Despite the group being divided over which play they preferred, this never truly divided the group, but actually helped build critical thinking, while also teaching how to hold ground and justify an opinion – something very important for a critic.

The social backdrop a program like Young Critics sets itself upon proved no obstacle, with participants going from first greetings to Shakespearean murder in a couple of hours. Everything grew from here, especially back at the hostel. Jenga tested trust the first night, but nothing compares to what came the second – Monopoly, a tale of cheating, robbery and extortion. Some riddles were thrown about, and tunes banged out on a guitar.

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William McCabe with fellow Young Critics Charles, Róisín and Shane investigate the text of Tryst by Finbarr Doyle & Jeda de Brí

This, paired with the program pushing for further exploration of the digital space, could lead to collaborative theatre reviews in the form of video & podcast. An exciting new frontier awaits the program, and this young critic cannot wait to see where this goes.

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The Young Critics visit Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

William McCabe is a member of  Griese Youth Theatre in Balitore, Co.Kildare and is a Youth Theatre Ireland Young Critic for 2018.