Reviewed – 12th September 2018
“full of modern wit, with punchlines that accurately chime with modern dating tropes”
Ireland’s had a run of referenda in recent years that have been successfully socially progressive, putting the UK’s effort in that department to shame. Most recently the referendum overturning the abortion ban, but not forgetting the preceding referendum on legalising same-sex marriage in 2015. Although the 2015 referendum was won in favour of same-sex marriage, that still left 38% who voted ‘No’.
It’s in this environment that we’re introduced to Seán. Seán’s sister Sinead is getting married to his school mate Steve. But Sinead doesn’t want Seán’s boyfriend to take the attention off her at the wedding. Fortunately for them, Seán already broke up with him. But as Seán’s friend Calista points out to him, he shouldn’t be content with tolerance from his own family; he should expect acceptance. And that’s when they hatch a plan, Mean Girls style, to nab Seán a man so hunky, so English, so … Protestant, that his family will flip out and wish that they hadn’t told him to hide.
Cormac Elliott gives a tender portrayal as Seán, at once proud and ashamed of his sexuality, resulting from his repressive upbringing. More than a story of familial acceptance however, Elliott’s portrayal conveys another, more prosaic, narrative: the process of getting over an ex. The Eris of the title refers to the Greek god of chaos and strife, adjectives that accurately describe Seán’s internal struggles as much as those that play out in his relationships.
Eris is not the only influence taken from the Ancient Greeks. The piece is highly stylised, with a Greek chorus of four actors each stepping up to play mother, sister, friend and lover throughout. This can be jarring at times. There are two scenes where we see Seán on a string of online dates, pinning down a stooge date for the wedding. These start strong, conveying the sense of mania and unease typical of meeting people online. But the scenes drag on, becoming tedious as the amplified sound often muffles the dialogue. At its best however, Charlie Ferguson, Katherine Laheen, Clare McGrath and Ashling O’Shea all embody their respective parts and create an energetic atmosphere.
John King’s original script is full of modern wit, with punchlines that accurately chime with modern dating tropes. These are tied together by vignettes ranging from the intimate, as his mother recounts the morning of her own wedding (featuring toast and marmalade) to the bizarre, like when Seán takes a date to see the musical Cats, although he has a psychosomatic feline allergy. Or when Séan tries to broach the subject of his sisters wedding mid fellatio by talking about his Nana. These moments are when the piece is at its best, making for an evening of laughs and more touching moments extremely memorable.
Reviewed by Amber Woodward
Photography by Connor Harris
The Bunker until 28th September
Talos II Sci-fi Festival
Bread and Roses Theatre
Reviewed – 22nd March 2018
“a showcase rather than a truly theatrical experience”
The Bread and Roses Theatre hosts ‘Talos II’, the second year of the UK’s first and only sci-fi theatre festival. Over four days, twelve writers present works encompassing interesting slants on fantasy and science fiction, with the collaboration of young, novice actors (many from The Guildhall School of Acting). It is an innovative project which gives around eighty artists and creatives the opportunity to express themselves, attracting a buzzing audience of family, friends and sci-fi enthusiasts as well as the regular theatre-goers.
Opening with ‘RIP’, written and directed by American writer Edward Einhorn, we enter the comic-absurd future where the ‘done thing’ is to buy a property with its own corpse, to remind us of the past. Touching on the Monty Pythonesque, the characters fit competently into their roles, Michael Golab standing out as a convincing ‘Rip’ incorporating a clever shift from old to young. Katherine Laheen’s ‘older Amy’ lacks shape at the end, but it is a somewhat unnecessary tying-up of the story, better left to the imagination.
The second piece is written by Christos Callow Jr (the Festival Director) and directed by Sokratis Synitos. A short, humorous sketch which forecasts the evolution between human and robot, played by Bee Scott and Evi Polyviou, it intrigues the audience, holding our attention as we realise how the tables could be turned. It is a well-acted, brief comment on the future of the cyber age. In ‘Paper Doll’, the closing play, Susan Eve Haar explores the subject of cloning; on the surface the break-down of a relationship, it takes an unexpected turn. Molly Rose Barton is strong, confident and moving, but there is an imbalance of intensity between her and Panayiotis Patsias whose performance lacks the necessary conviction, preventing any powerful build-up of tension and emotion. Although Director Katherine Sturt-Scobie makes varied use of the limited space, any action on the floor of the stage is missed from the back of the theatre. The end is artfully punctuated by a projection which emphasises the lack of resourcefulness elsewhere during the evening. All three plays are quite interesting, the costumes are fine and the lighting and sound (Chuma Emembolu) are adequate but there are lapses in the quality of acting which, disappointingly, distracts from the engagement and the enjoyment.
Any initiative to promote the arts should be applauded. However, a limited budget and less experienced actors and technicians does not mean that the standard is compromised, as is evident from the increasing number of small theatres, including the Bread and Roses, producing an almost limitless choice of first-class productions. Hopefully this is first night nerves and that over time the festival will grow, but for the moment it stands as a showcase rather than a truly theatrical experience.
Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington
Talos II Sci-fi Festival
Bread and Roses Theatre until 25th March