Tag Archives: Thomas Martin

Lad

Lad

★★★★★

VAULT Festival 2020

Lad

Lad

Forge – The Vault

Reviewed – 4th March 2020

★★★★★

 

“a rollicking Irish comedy with the power to evoke hilarity, tension and sadness in equal measure”

 

Pinocchio had Jiminy Cricket, King Lear had the Fool, Lyra Belacqua had Pantalaimon. In Alan Mahon and Rhys Dunlop’s play “Lad” Steve has a cocky conscience who is more likely to suggest giving a little wolf whistle and tempting women with the contents of his codpiece than offering sound advice.

For while Steve is sensitive, plagued by self-doubt and considerate of women his still, small voice wants him to be one of the lads, think about sex constantly, grow some balls and man up.

After their recent thought-provoking production of “Flights” at the Clapham Omnibus Theatre, One Duck Theatre have this shorter offering at the VAULT Festival which is equally about masculinity, what makes men tick and how the company they keep can rob them of feelings, emotions, common sense and decency.

It’s a rollicking Irish comedy with the power to evoke hilarity, tension and sadness in equal measure helped along by two star performances by the writers and some understanding and creative touches from director Thomas Martin.

Mahon plays Steve, the quiet and likeable supermarket shelf filler preparing a best man’s speech for his friend’s wedding. There’s a mysterious undercurrent to his character as we discover he was formerly an accountant and has clearly lost some laddish friends owing to an event in the past for which he is reluctant to apologise.

As Steve tries to pluck up the confidence to date the maid of honour and, in parallel, applies for a job as a tour guide at the local zoo, his larger than life conscience (think Deadpool with voices that are constantly cocksure and unpleasantly self-gratifying) encourages him along a dark path of bad behaviour. Dunlop is wonderfully crude and uninhibited as the sort of mate who is the life and soul of every party but who always manages to persuade you to cross boundaries and go that step too far when it comes to being acceptable.

There is one piece of inwardly lit set (designed by Dunlop, Mahon and Martin) which serves as everything from a pub table to a urinal – though on closer inspection you realise that its interesting shape symbolises the male sexuality that throbs throughout the drama. (A voice warns us at the start that if we are offended by the set it is going to be a long show.)

Pulsating lighting (Cillian McNamara) and sound (Ekaterina Solomatina) move the action along swiftly and nimbly, reflecting changes of location and mood easily.

“Lad” offers a sound contemporary reflection on boyish culture, raising questions about unchecked attitudes to women and life in general, and there are quite rightly significant moments of embarrassment and sadness as the nice guy yields to temptations.

Yet this is not a play without hope. Ideal for this type of small-scale venue it has big issues to raise as it questions matters of manhood, the building of character and just how hard it can be to fit in.

 

Reviewed by David Guest

Photography by Keith Dixon 

 

VAULT Festival 2020

 

 

Click here to see all our reviews from VAULT Festival 2020

 

Flights

Flights

★★★½

Omnibus Theatre

Flights

Flights

Omnibus Theatre

Reviewed – 13th February 2020

★★★½

 

“All three actors are at their best as Liam, lively and energetic and sad”

 

In rural Ireland, three friends meet to commemorate something that happened 17 years ago – the death of their mate Liam. But none of them are 17 anymore, and the night is a mix of memory and present day revelations. It’s supposed to be a big one – 17 years later, and 17 when he died, but the rest of the lads are in town for the birthday of someone none of them know, and only Pa, Barry and Cusack show up to mark the anniversary. Still, they line up the cans, Pa passes out the drugs and they get the darts out.

The whole play (set and costume design by Naomi Faughnan) is set in the shack they used to go to, the gang of them, when they were teenagers. There’s a single flashing strip light (lighting design Zia Bergin-Holly), empty beer cans, faded deck chairs, candles, a table the wrong way up, a bed and mattress separated on either side of the room. It’s a claustrophobic space, and outside all we can hear is rain pouring down (sound design Peter Power).

Occasionally the pace is too slow, and the piece as a whole does feel longer than it needs to be. But the actors help to carry it through. Rhys Dunlop plays Pa, perhaps the character most in pain, still reeling, apparently living more in the past than in any kind of future. He delivers a particularly moving performance as the story unfolds. Barry is played by Colin Campbell, again another very convincing performance, whilst Conor Madden plays Cusack, the new father of the group, who has some lovely moments although begins acting drunk too early which makes the mid-point of his performance feel repetitive.

Each actor takes a turn to morph into Liam and deliver a monologue in three pieces which tells the story of what really happened the night he died. All three actors are at their best as Liam, lively and energetic and sad.

Flights, written by John O’Donovan and directed here by Thomas Martin is a poignant play about grief and about male friendships. It’s about the way that people change as they get older, set in an Ireland none of them are quite ready to leave.

 

Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Ste Murray

 


Flights

Omnibus Theatre until 29th February

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The Orchestra | ★★★ | January 2019
Lipstick: A Fairy Tale Of Iran | ★★★ | February 2019
Tony’s Last Tape | ★★★★ | April 2019
Country Music | ★★★★ | May 2019
Othello: Remixed | ★★★★ | June 2019
Lone Star Diner | ★★★ | September 2019
Femme Fatale | ★★ | October 2019
Fiji | ★★★★★ | November 2019
The Little Prince | ★★★★ | December 2019
The Glass Will Shatter | ★★★★ | January 2020

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews