Tag Archives: Adam McCready

The Beauty Queen Of Leenane

★★★★

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch

The Beauty Queen Of Leenane

The Beauty Queen Of Leenane

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch

Reviewed – 31st October 2019

★★★★

 

“From the banal domesticity of the outset, Mark Babych’s direction creates an atmosphere of eerie foreboding”

 

As the rain pours down on an isolated cottage in the hills of Connemara, the fate of 40-year-old Maureen who lives with her mother, Mag, unravels in a compelling story of bitterness, hope and disillusion. Their hardened relationship of resentful co-dependence is threatened when an old friend, Pato, turns up unexpectedly and offers Maureen a new life. Refusing to be abandoned by her one constancy, Mag has no qualms about trying to prevent her daughter from leaving, but with drastic repercussions.

Martin McDonagh’s first play and part of the ‘Leenane Trilogy’, ‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane’, was his theatrical breakthrough in 1996. Inspired by the life and language he was immersed in during childhood summers in his father’s hometown, it is a masterpiece of plot and role enmeshment. The tragicomedy flows naturally from the Irish idiom and spirit, describing the trials and tribulations of a bleak existence but with a sharp, funny edge. From the banal domesticity of the outset, Mark Babych’s direction creates an atmosphere of eerie foreboding, the stifling timelessness of confinement is contrasted with the breezy dream of escape. This is reinforced in Sara Perks’ creative, detailed set, with the thick, cut-down walls revealing the wide, open sky, and Jess Addinall’s dramatic lighting design.

As the conversations develop, the layers are peeled back to reveal the complex balance of close-knit families, each very different person irrevocably bonded by the past. Maggie McCarthy is an unnervingly sinister Mag, swaying from needy elderly mother to remorseless manipulator. The charming yet sensitive Pato is played by Nicholas Boulton, with a genuinely moving show of affection for Maureen but, as the hidden conflicts of her character gradually surface she becomes ever more challenging; in an impassioned performance by Siobhan O’Kelly, Maureen faces the reality of the life she leads. Laurence Pybus is excellent as Pato’s slow-witted yet coltish brother, Ray, whose restless chatter and behaviour appears both comic and disturbing.

This production, in collaboration with Hull Truck Theatre, re-establishes the roots of McDonagh’s talent for dark comedy and reflects his innate feeling for the film genre which he successfully moved into later. The immaculate set and lighting have a cinematic quality and the direction, particularly at the end, draws on this. It is only at the culminating point that we lose connection due to the distance from the stage and the moment is not as chilling as it could be. In addition, the music and sound by Adam McCready, which generally fit this style, occasionally come across – particularly between scenes – quite oversized for such an intimate atmosphere. With accomplished, subtly powerful acting ‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane’ hooks the audience into the corrosive, emotional entanglement with suspense and engaging wit.

 

Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington

Photography by Ian Hodgson

 


The Beauty Queen Of Leenane

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch until 16th November

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Rope | ★★★★ | February 2018
The Game of Love and Chai | ★★★ | April 2018
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert | ★★★ | May 2018
Abi | ★★★★ | September 2018
Abigail’s Party | ★★★½ | September 2018
Once | ★★★★★ | October 2018
Haunting Julia | ★★ | November 2018
The Hired Man | ★★★ | April 2019
As You Like It | ★★★★ | August 2019

 

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Noughts and Crosses
★★

Theatre Royal Brighton & UK Tour

Noughts and Crosses

Noughts and Crosses

Theatre Royal Brighton & UK Tour

Reviewed – 19th March 2019

★★

 

“misfires terribly, covering too many issues without any real cohesion and substance”

 

The idea of Noughts and Crosses appears a simple one. The tables have turned and the power in the world rests with the black population, not the white. We have the Crosses that epitomises power, wealth and political dominance and then the Noughts, second class citizens who are discriminated against because of their beliefs and are banned from interaction with the Crosses.

The story of Noughts and Crosses follows two teens from opposing sides of society, Sephy (Heather Agyepong), a Cross and Callum (Billy Harris), a Nought. We start by seeing their childhood innocence but that soon shifts onto much darker tones.

Throughout the piece we identify the rest of the cast (Doreene Blackstock, Jack Condon, Daniel Copeland, Lisa Howard, Chris Jack and Kimisha Lewis) jumping between characters. From parents of the two teens to members of rebellious militia groups amongst others. This could be a real strength of the piece but however falls flat with no real clear distinction vocally from the actors to differentiate between the roles which is ultimately confusing for the audience.

In the Noughts and Crosses novel series Malorie Blackman understands who we are as people better than most. The characters she’s created, in Sephy and Callum particularly, have depth but are poorly transitioned onto stage by adapter Sabrina Mahfouz. I do sympathise with Mahfouz however as it is an ambitious effort to translate all the themes from the first two novels, which Noughts and Crosses is based on, into just two hours. Above all I feel there is a clear generation gap in the writing, condescending in its approach to youth issues. The use of phrases such as ‘Flipping Sod’ makes us cringe rather than connect.

The saving grace in this production however comes from the design team, in that of Josh Drualas Pharo (Lighting) Arun Ghosh (Music), Xana (Sound), Adam McCready (Sound Engineer) Ian William Galloway (Video) and Simon Kerry (Design). The arrangement echoes The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night Time, a sparse stage with hidden compartments and doors. The attractive set helps the transitioning of scenes seem effortless.

Overall Noughts and Crosses misfires terribly, covering too many issues without any real cohesion and substance. Rape, physical abuse, teenage pregnancy and radicalisation are all pertinent issues however the end result is chaotic and clumsy; a condescending scattergun of the analysis of youth and love.

 

Reviewed by Nathan Collins

Photography by Robert Day

 


Noughts and Crosses

Theatre Royal Brighton until 23rd March

then UK Tour continues

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
This is Elvis | ★★★ | July 2018
Salad Days | ★★★ | September 2018
Rocky Horror Show | ★★★★ | December 2018
Benidorm Live! | ★★★★ | February 2019

 

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