Tag Archives: louise o’meara

Smock Alley Theatre: Bronte

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Illustrated Productions present a bitter tale of feminism, family and fame.

A story within a story, Bronte brings us through the lives of five members of The Bronte family. Growing up near a moor in Yorkshire, the three famous sisters start their story by explaining why their tales have always been inhabited by so many orphans. Though there was a father (played by Ruairí Lenaghan), the mother Bronte has departed from this world way too early; the same cruel fate has not passed by the elder two sisters. But Charlotte (played by Louise O’Meara), Emily (played by Katie McCann) and Anne (played by Ashleigh Dorrell) together with their only brother Branwell (played by Desmond Eastwood) lived long enough to give this world such truly outstanding stories as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

Illustrated Productions has created an atmospherical story that brings you back to the nineteenth century England in a blink of an eye. The beautifully structured two hour piece mainly centers on the lives of the three sisters but doesn’t leave out the not-so-famous brother, either. In a very subtle way the play shows us what and, mainly, who inspired the Brontes to write their masterpieces. Here is the overprotective father, the abusive brother, the virgin, the mad wife, the lover… the list goes on and on. The barrier between the real world and the Bronte’s one at times gets so thin that you forget who is a fictional character and who is the real one. The company has used a visually powerful device: when one of the sisters is writing a new passage of her story, another member of the family re-enacts it on stage.

The brilliant casting decisions are more than evident from the very beginning. All five protagonists come across as real truthful human beings. The diversity and particularity of character of the Bronte sisters that McCann, O’Meara and Dorrell so masterfully portray is striking and quite appealing to watch. The way the characters build up the story and develop the relationships between each other is incredibly strong.

Bronte grabs your attention and doesn’t let it go until the very end. The set (designed by Sinead Purcell), the lighting (designed by Brian Nulty), everything is there to transport you to anything but charming Victorian England and show how three poor unknown spinsters became some of the finest female writers of their century and beyond.

Bronte, written by Polly Teale and directed by Clare Maguire, has enjoyed a sold out run in Smock Alley Theatre. For those who didn’t get lucky, there is still a chance to catch this absolutely magnificent production when it transfers to the dlr Mill Theatre, Dundrum next week. From 16th to 18th March. For more info or to book tickets: http://www.milltheatre.ie/events/bronte/

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Smock Alley Theatre: Animalia

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Tiger Dublin Fringe 2016 is in its prime with the first week shows in full swing. With the three shows under my belt, this review will be about Ian Toner’s new play Animalia.

Developed at Fringe Lab with the support of Tiger Dublin Fringe and Theatre Lovett, this fifty min piece follows the story of two girls who could’ve been best friends: Danielle (played by Louise O’Meara) and Sarah (played by Ashleigh Dorrell) – two eleven year olds, who are going through fifth grade crisis of identity, popularity, friendship and first love and loss. What could be more existential than two children being faced with every day – every life issues known to anyone who has ever been a child.

So, why go and see this play out of all others on offer during the fringe? The answer might be somewhat more obvious that many would expect. Because we’ve all been eleven years old, we’ve all experienced what Sarah and Danielle (and Brigid and other girls and boys in the play) are going through. And now, when we are in our twenties and thirties or further down the road, now we can finally look back and not only smile at our young selves, now we can see how smart we were and how big some of those issues were and how wise we managed them despite our age and inexperience. Animalistic instinct – first rule of survival.

To bring this onto a different level, one of the main characters – Sarah – is given a trivial, at first look, but crucial to the story hobby: she loves reading about animals and natural life. So, the characters are not only being compared to the inhabitants of the somewhat wilder nature, but their actions, decisions and personalities are all animalistic to the very core. Simply because inside of each one of us there is an animal.  That helps to understand the play on a more instinct-driven level. We’ve all had a friend who was as hissy as a snake, as cute and adorable as a panda or as timid as mouse. When we talk about animals, we don’t consider only the outside but rather the inside, the very nature of a being.

Animalia, with its absolutely superb acting, is the perfect example of how tragedy is shown through comedy. Both O’Meara and Dorrell portray a whole range of characters (varying quite masterly both gender and age). Even though it does take some time to get used to the idea that one actor can be playing two different characters in the same scene, once you’ve got your head around it, the characters come across quite vividly and crystal clear.

With a quite minimalistic set (by Katie Foley), Animalia is one hundred percent acting driven. But then, who needs layers and layers of decor and elaborated design (as fancy as it might sometimes be), when the almost magical space that The Boys’ School is can be filled with wonderful voices, movements and real human emotions.

If you are on a lookout for a time travel machine into the past (with the benefit of not having to travel too far), then I couldn’t recommend anything more than Animalia, written by the talented Ian Toner and directed by the wonderful Sarah Finlay. Runs in the Smock Alley Theatre until September 18th. For more info or to book tickets: http://www.fringefest.com/festival/whats-on/animalia 

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Filed under Animalia, FringeFest 2016, Smock Alley Theatre, Tiger Dublin Fringe 2016, Uncategorized

Smock Alley Theatre: The Wise Wound

And now for something completely different.

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If you are tired of all the 1916 hassle and just want an easy, enjoyable and entertaining night out, then I have something just perfect for you! Smock Alley Theatre and Teri Fitzgerald present something very special and unique: The Wise Wound, a farcical comedy about four upper class 19 century sisters, whose father has left them to fight in the American war.

The beautiful, young and blushing Meg (played by Ashleigh Dorrell) is about to be married to John Brooke (played by Shane O’Regan), a young local politician and a son of her father’s good friend. Meg is head over heels about the idea of becoming a wife, but her sisters can’t bare the thought of having to part with their dear Meg. They all cope in their own ways: Beth (played by Megan O’Flynn), who doesn’t only have TB but also is wheelchair-bound, is trying to play on Meg’s heartstrings by purposely coughing blood and looking pale; Jo (played by Clodagh Mooney Duggan), a typical 19 century suffragette, groundbreaking (well, almost) playwright and women rights activist, simply thinks that no woman shall be subjected to a man, so she, with the help of her younger sister Amy (played by Teri Fitzgerald), who is already showing some quite vicious and violent tendencies, decide to work out a whole plan on how to stop Meg and John from getting married. The two girls might just be getting carried away a little bit. Just a little bit.

It is supposed to be Meg’s happiest day, but will it?

This 90 min piece has a very talented and inspiring cast of 14 actors! And not a single role is wasted. No matter how big or small the part is, every character was beautifully fleshed out by the great writing and the skillful acting. Special kudos to Jo’s group of suffragettes who with equal passion (of course, because equality is everything!) discuss men-hating, cake-baking, poetry-writing and how much they would not want to go to the war.

Teri Fitzgerald, who both wrote and performed in this piece, once again has shown the ability to create a whole new world of ridiculously beautiful and tremendously funny characters.

I thought it would be difficult to repeat the success of A Lesson in When to Quit, bit I was mistaken. Quite similar in structure, both plays are quite unique on their own. You can’t really compare The Wise Wound to anything else showing at the moment in Dublin, and that shows the diversity of Irish theatre and gives the audience the possibility to choose.

The Wise Wound, directed by Philip Doherty, has it all: comedy, drama, sing-a-long, and even a miracle. And who doesn’t need a miracle?  And sometimes, it’s just good to know that all’s well that ends well. 

With very simple set, lighting and sound design, but quite interesting costumes and one very questionable costume-prop, this play  one hundred percent relies on acting and story-telling (or story-singing at times). So, if you are feeling blue and in a need of a good dosage of happiness and laughter, then this play is exactly for you. For more info or to book tickets: http://smockalley.com/wise-wound/

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Filed under Smock Alley Theatre, teri fitzgerald, The Cup Theatre Company, The Wise Wound