The Best Place for Love – The New Theatre, Dublin
Writer: Paul Kennedy
Director: Paul Kennedy
Reviewer: Laura Marriott
To be an artist requires a certain type of self – belief and determination in order to keep getting back up after each rejection. As one continues along the same path those you started out with either fall away into different careers, searching for the stability offered by a steady pay check. Or, they begin to fly past you. Taking on lead roles, having their work published or displayed in galleries. When living in a world of near constant rejection how does one maintain the self – motivation needed to keep going?
This central difficulty of being an artist is explored in Paul Kennedy’s new play The Best Place for Love which opened tonight at Dublin’s The New Theatre to a sold out crowd. Anna, played by Sarah Allen Clarke, and Mick, played by Steve Gunn, are living together. They have become so comfortable, or so used to each other, that at times they are abrasive, on the verge of an explosive argument, before falling into each other’s arms. They recognise the same artistic struggle in each other. Anna has returned to the stage after a break of three years to face the challenge of committing herself to each character fully, before waiting to see if she has gotten the part. There is a certain powerlessness in her situation. This is something she shares with artist Mick. It is when he is holding out for a buyer, someone to inject some cash and much needed confidence into his endeavours that he meets Frank.
Frank, played by Pat McGrath, is a hurricane of a man. Big, loud and abrasive with a voice that booms, he takes up all the space around him. He is so certain of his intuition that he follows it no matter what. By doing this he has become something of a financial genius but has left havoc in his wake. Almost swallowed up by the storm around him is his wife Angela. Played by Susan Bracken, her belated entrance changes the tone and the audience are invited behind the scenes, illuminating the histories and beliefs that have bought the characters to where they now find themselves. Her final speech is impressive and energising.
The staging is kept relatively simple and unobtrusive. Spot lighting is used throughout to highlight key moments. The cast work well together, the tension and friendliness between them reaching into the audience. There are occasional moments where the actors seem to be speaking monologues directly to the audience, slightly apart from the others on stage. McGrath deserves special mention. His portrayal of Frank is a standout moment. McGrath’s Frank is recognisable and embodies much of the rise and fall of Ireland over the past decade.
The Best Place for Love is an engaging and surprising piece of theatre.
Runs until 26 November | Image: Ste Murray.