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Theatre Upstairs: Hero


A new season in Theatre Upstairs has started with what can only be described as one of the most touching love stories told by a man. Ken Rogan’s new play Hero is an absolutely breath-taking one hour piece about a love, loss and life as it happens sometimes.

Smithy (played by Daithi Mac Suibhne) is a good-looking single guy who enjoys just as much the big sport as the company of his best mates. And everything is going well for The Captain Smithy until one night the football pitch converts into a dance floor and he meets her, the girl who is to steal his heart forever. But he doesn’t know it yet. All that matters for the moment is that he, the man, gets her, the woman. Marissa studied law and bends her head the way that makes Smithy forget about everyone else. A couple of unoriginal cheeky chat up lines later, a kiss lands on her cheek that is to change everything… for Smithy. For Marissa life continues the way it used to be: occasional night out with a friend, facebook status updates, texting him when she’s had one too many. All this time, Smithy seems to be happy to fool around and to be fooled. But everything changes when he realises: she is the one, the true love he was looking for. And for the first time, he wants to tell her this using the actual words. But she doesn’t seem to understand. She just wants to have another round. The game has changed for Smithy. The stakes are as high as they have never been. But is he to win or lose this one?

A wonderfully structured piece that goes right through your heart doesn’t only benefit from Rogan’s masterful writing. The outstandingly passionate solo performance given by Daithi Mac Suibhne makes all the justice to the carefully crafted script. It’s all in the little, almost subtle, details that Mac Suibhne brought so skillfully to life with the help of Amilia Stewart, for whom Hero is none the less but a directing debut. Stewart added a very nice gentle female touch to a play both written and performed by a man. It made Hero not only better or different, but very diverse and with a certain grain of profundity .

The magic of the space that Theatre Upstairs is has been hugely enhanced by the absolutely smashing set (by Naomi Faughnan) and lighting (by Eoin Byrne) design. Such a beautiful game of light against the sparkling glass all throughout the piece is indescribable; the perfect example of something that no amount of words can paint and it simply has to be seen.

Once again Theatre Upstairs has exceeded all the expectations and brought to life a truly beautiful and tremendously touching production that has both elements of comedy and tragedy. A play that demonstrates clearly: a true love is always worth fighting for. In association with Lakedaemon, Hero runs till January 28th. For more info or to book a seat: http://www.theatreupstairs.ie/what-is-on


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Theatre Upstairs: Murder of Crows


“The only way to get what you want is to make them more afraid of you than they are of each other.”

– The Crimson Crow

Christmas could be very different. And sure it’s unlike anything else in Theatre Upstairs, where unravels a dark tale of friendship, foulness and fighting for the ones you love.

Bitter Like a Lemon in association with Theatre Upstairs presents its latest play Murder of Crows, a story about a school trip to hell. The three best friends Sam (played by Katie Honan), Dee (played by Amilia Stewart) and Jess (played by Aisling O’Mara) aren’t even meant to go in the first place but end up on the bus to the Garden of Ireland anyway. Just before the trip begins the girlfriends hear a prophecy that warns them of the black crows and begs them not to go anywhere near them. Not taking it too seriously, the girls set off on a journey that is going to change their lives forever. In Wicklow, they are scheduled to do some obligatory scholar activities that nobody is particularly excited about but the real fun starts after. The girls of St Brigit’s are being joined by students – mainly boys – from other schools. They start drinking, intermingling and do things that teenagers normally do. But the fateful hour has already been set. And maybe some people should be more careful with what they say and do, maybe they shouldn’t bully and make fun of others – weaker – ones… Maybe deep inside each one of us lives a little devil that is only waiting to be set free. The consequences of which sometimes can be harmful, even mortal or soul destroying.

Lee Coffey’s Murder of Crows is a heartbreaking piece with an unbelievable twist at the end. It’s almost impossible to digest how much raw meaty parts there is in this slightly under one hour play. Under the superb direction of Karl Shiels, the gradation of the piece is perfectly timed: it starts off nicely and slowly with no preparation of what is yet to come. You think it might be just one of those hight school plays where students talk about their problems. But you couldn’t be further from being wrong. Lee Coffey wouldn’t be Lee Coffey if he hadn’t written a play that actually aims to touch on some of the most tabooed and controversial subjects that teenagers encounter in everyday life but are afraid to talk about.

The script is being strongly supported by the outstanding cast of three actresses, who absolute nail their parts. The characterization and physicality is incredibly strong and it goes to both the main parts that the girls are playing and the secondary characters. I don’t think I’ll be wrong if I say that the way Aisling O’Mara delivered the prophecy sent chills to everyone in the audience. An absolutely out-of-this-world experience that petrified and mesmerized at the same time.

In a play like Murder of Crows, visual aspects can be very important and influential. The two things that caught my eye straight away were, of course, the set (by Naomi Faughnan) and the lighting (by Laura Honan) designs. Quite simple but visually very strong mood setters that made the piece even more atmospheric.

So, if you are in a mood for something completely different this season, don’t be a Grinch and steal Christmas. Go to see Murder or Crows and get your dose of darkness and brutal reality! Runs in Theatre Upstairs until December 17th, for more info or to book tickets: http://www.theatreupstairs.ie/murder-of-crows

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Theatre Upstairs: A Boy Called Nedd

Yesterday was the opening night of a brand new play A Boy Called Nedd by Emily Gillmor Murphy.

A boy called Nedd tells a story of five teenagers, who go to the same school. All five of them are very different, but quite stereotypical Irish:

Nedd (played by Conall Keating) is a sweet guy who is going through a lot of shit. His older brother Ben has just committed a suicide; his dad, unable to cope with the situation, has just left; his ma can’t hold a job. Nedd really likes Alice and it even looks like she likes him back.

Alice (played by Amilia Stewart) is a girl who’s sleeping around with everyone. She does it out of insecurity and complete lack of confidence. She is desperate for any proof that she’s likable and pretty, that a guy would just like her just for who she is. And when such a guy does turn up, she’s too confused and scared to let him inside her heart.

Anto (played by Liam Heslin) is Nedd’s best friend. He is the cool guy, or the one who desperately wants to make such an impression. He drinks, he smokes,… he is the kind of bad guy good girls would fall for.

Sophie (played by Aislinn O’Byrne) is the typical good girl, who gets A in every single subject. She looks up to Alice and is desperately in love with Anto who barely knows that she even exists.

Niamh (played by Jasmine Brady) is the bitchy one. She is smart, very confident and has an answer for everything. She doesn’t like when things don’t go the way she wants. She also likes Anto but, unlike Sophie, she is not afraid of doing something about it.

A Boy Called Nedd is a darkish comedy that simply sweeps you away with some really high class acting. Characterisation in this production is simply amazing. Every single actor plays his or her part so precisely and so uniquely that it takes your breath away.

Visually it’s also a very fair play. There are absolutely no props on stage except for a wall with pictures and drawers at the very back. This small but very effective detail constantly reminds us that the main action takes place in a school. Another nice directing choice has been made in the change of scenes: actors would change places and focuses marching like soldiers.

No doubt some of the best scenes took part in the classrooms, rather than outside of school, when the characters would communicate by whispering one to another. The reactions were just so perfect that anybody, who has ever gone to school, could easily associate with them.

This beautiful production is part of Occupy Theatre Upstairs program by Bitter Like a Lemon Theatre Company. It’ll run until June, 13th. For more info or to book tickets, visit: http://www.theatreupstairs.ie/a-boy-called-nedd

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