My English Tongue, My Irish Heart by Martin Lynch. A Young Critic Review by Vinny McBrien

In the run up to NAYD’s Young Critics Panel on Sunday Oct 4th as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival, we are 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 just a week to go until the Young Critics hit the Dublin Theatre Festival  we review My English Tongue, My Irish Heart by Martin Lynch

 Keith Singleton, KerrI Quinn, MargaretMcAuliffe & CillanODee. Image Credit Ruth-GonsalvesMoore ( 2015).

Keith Singleton, KerrI Quinn, Margaret McAuliffe & Cillan O’Dee. Image Credit Ruth-Gonsalves Moore ( 2015).

Green Shoot Productions

The Dock, Carrick-On-Shannon

Reviewed by Vinny McBrien

My English Tongue My Irish Heart, an in-depth look into Irish emigration to England across time, was both historic and intriguing to watch. The plot focuses on a 21st century couple, Susan (Kerri Quinn) and Gary (Cillian O’Dee), living in Dublin. He is from Mayo and is a bit of a culchie, while she is an adventurous young woman from Tyrone. She wants to emigrate to England, but Gary does not want to leave Ireland. The play also interweaves into the plot smaller stories of people emigrating from different periods in the past including labourers, bottle washers, and pickpockets. As the play moves from scene to scene, this sometimes becomes confusing, as it is hard to figure out what era the play is in or which story is being told. The script itself contains interesting facts about emigration but sometimes this becomes too much when a bundle of information comes at you all at once.

When the audience enters, we see Martin Lynch’s and Niall Rea’s set design of one large box in the middle of the stage with smaller ones piled on top. When the actors came out, they sing while moving the boxes; I found this to be a very clever metaphor for the work the emigrants were seeking in the new places they were moving to. The whole cast sang traditional Irish songs during the performance, and special praise has to go to Margaret McAuliffe, who is an amazing singer. The lighting is basic with spotlights on centre stage and to the corners, which would black out in certain scenes. The audience sits around the theatre, with some at tables. This works well in a pub scene, as it makes you feel like you are in the pub watching the action go on.

My English Tongue, My Irish Heart by Martin Lynch

My English Tongue, My Irish Heart by Martin Lynch

The acting is very believable and enjoyable. The actress who stands out the most is Kerri Quinn; her presence on stage, comedic character, and natural presence really make the production. One downfall is that the actors did not always play to the audience in this theatre-in-the-round. When the action was on the other side of the stage, I felt distant from the play.

This production aims to teach the audience about Irish emigration to England. While it does achieve this somewhat, in my experience the play is more educating than entertaining, and at times I lost interest. I would particularly recommend it to people who have an interest in history, and I have to compliment the cast and crew on their hard work and research, which was clear to see.

Vinny McBrien is a member of Leitrim Youth Theatre Company Carrigallen and an NAYD Young Critic for 2015

The Dock, Carrick On Shannon  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.


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