Sometimes even the professionals need to go back to the absolute basics. Nowadays, it’s quite easy to go over the top and wow the audience with the amazing decorations, costumes and special effects. It looks like there is nothing that a company can’t do provided that the budget is not an issue. This year I’ve seen everything from a rotating stage to a slow motion effect used in a Shakesperean play. I’ve seen small local fringe shows and big Broadway productions… without going too far, the most recent production I’ve attended – Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? – absolutely amazed me with the stage design (just like The Father did with its lighting design). But at the end of the day, it all comes down to how well-written the script is and how skillful the actors are who take upon themselves to portray those characters.
Yes, it’s true that if you are a professional actor, the size of the role or the lack of costume/decorations should not be an issue. But, let’s be honest. It helps. A lot. It helps the actor, who wants to properly immerse him/herself into the imaginary world, and it helps the audience to see that newly created world.
All this said, I hope you can imagine how difficult a rehearsed reading could be. Basically, it’s a raw material that the author is willing to present to the public’s fiercest judgement. There is absolutely no safety net to fall back onto in case the play flops. It’s absolutely up to the script and the cast to make the production shine. No pressure, right?
I had the pleasure of attending a rehearsed reading of Ciara Elizabeth Smyth’s new play All Honey (Smyth is the founding member of Sad Strippers Theatre Company and her previous work includes Pour it Out and Triangles) that was presented as part of New Writing Week at The New Theatre, Dublin. The play has an everyday setting: Mae (played by Aoibhéann McCann) suspects that her boyfriend Barry (played by Peter McGann) is cheating on her. She shares this knowledge with her best friend Ruth (played by Hannah Mamalis), who at first doesn’t take it seriously. Later that day during the party that Ru and her boyfriend Luke (played by John Doran) are holding, the girl starts picking up on different clues that Barry indeed might be secretly seeing someone else. Val (played by Ciara Smyth), a completely psycho living on the border of reality and imagination where every man adores her and she’s the diamond sushi on the menu of life, is the best candidate for the role. But the home detective Ru couldn’t even imagine who the real flower of Barry’s secret is.
The full reading, which lasted for approximately forty minutes, can easily be translated into a fast-pace one hour piece. The script is a real cracker with the wittingly written lines and that the perfectly-matching cast brought to life. It picks up quickly and holds the emotion all the way through to the end. All Honey is an easy relaxing watch to take your mind away from everyday problems. It’s engaging and it’s captivating without being overloaded with information, redundant details or unnecessary plot lines. It’s straight forward and interesting to follow. My only concern was that it ended way to fast and on a real kicker.
The reading was directed by the amazing Jeda de Brí, who always knows what she is doing and this time wasn’t an exception. Together with Ciara Smyth, they’ve managed to create a very promising piece that undoubtedly will be a success with the audience.
All Honey is a great example of the fact that Ireland does have some very talented, hard-working and challenging female theatre makers. And if you still have your doubts about it then keep an eye on this one. Ciara Smyth and company, at this very moment, are working to launch All Honey into a full production. With a bit of luck, we hopefully will see it in one of Dublin’s theaters sooner rather than later.