The second week of highly acclaimed International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival has officially opened its doors to another bunch of creative artists.
For a story like YES the timing simply couldn’t have been better. It’s just days before the first anniversary since Irish people voted YES to Marriage Equality. And those who were involved in bringing equality to the people of Ireland, had it been by canvassing or simply by putting a tick next to the Yes box in the voting form, will be able to relate so deeply to this play and the meaning behind it; all the emotions of that sunny day in late May of 2015, when the results were announced, will be evoken as the four characters sit on stage waiting to hear the news. And even though you yourself, being somewhat a time-traveler from the future, already know what’s going to happen… the memories of waiting at the Dublin Castle, the sudden unease, the fear, the “what if” will unexplainably come rushing back.
Yes is a story of four different people united in one mission: to get as many people as possible to vote Yes. They all have their own reasons for why they decided to canvass. Gina (played by Denise Quinn) is a loving mother of two sons, one of whom is gay. Gina is canvassing for her gay son Mark and his right not even to marry who he loves, but to have the same rights as his straight brother. Peter (played by David Grant) is a veteran canvasser. A veteran gay, too. He has a dark story of his own; a story of love lost too soon to AIDS. Laura (played by Andrea Cleary) is a gay woman in her thirties who is in a long term relationship with her girlfriend Caroline. Being the black ship of the family, Laura is finally happy with her current love situation; Laura just wants equality for everyone even though the prospect of marrying scares the hell out of her. Josh (played by Andy Gallagher) is the youngest and the most carefree spirit of the group. He is from down the country and enjoying his new life in Dublin, his university and his new gay friends; he even joined the gay soc. Josh hasn’t yet come out to his somewhat old-fashioned family and is planning to do so on his big brother’s wedding day.
I’ve always had a doubt about playwrights directing their own work, but Yes is a great proof of why sometimes there is no better director than the playwright. At the end of the day, nobody understands the depth of the script better than the person who wrote it. Cullen’s characters are deeply touching with each single one of them being a beautifully fleshed out person. Moreover, the ensemble of four brilliant actors made wonderful justice to their respective characters; with Denise Quinn completely stealing the show at times. Her Gina was an absolute joy to watch.
The piece becomes complete with some very interesting directing decisions. And, the opening scene is just one of them. Using a smart strategy, it draws the audience immediately into the action. This feeling continues all the way through until the very last second. Yes evokes a whole range of emotions: it’s funny, thought-provoking and hugely entertaining; it deals with truthful human stories that are deeply personal but not private for the audience to be uncomfortable.
The cozy Pearse Center is the perfect location for a play like YES. With an already welcoming script, the play allows its audience to feel inside the action rather than just be a mere viewer. Not for a second I felt like I was watching a put on show, it was more like eavesdropping on an real conversation from a referendum headquarter of one year ago.
Yes, written and directed by Colette Cullen, opens tomorrow and runs until May 14th. For more info or to book tickets: YES.