Knowing Nathan

Knowing Nathan – The Complex, Dublin
Writers: Tony Doyle and Laura O’Shea
Director: Claudia Kinahan

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(Laura O’Shea as April and Tony Doyle as Danny)

Knowing Nathan, currently running at The Complex, is the new play from actors and writers Tony Doyle and Laura O’Shea.

When Tallaght native Danny meets Limerick girl April in a pub on the Dublin Quays their lives will be altered forever.

Knowing Nathan begins with a kick. For the audience the jokes about Dublin and Limerick stereotypes went down a treat as April and Danny discover that they have a lot in common. The conversation moves quickly as does their relationship. Soon they go from meeting in pubs and bars to being introduced to the parents and sharing a home. Their relationship is hit with a surprise that will determine whether love will conquer all.

Knowing Nathan is funny and sparky from the off. As Danny and April’s monologues join together into one flow of conversation and ideas, the way in which they speak mirrors their relationship. There are many laugh out loud moments as their relationship begins to blossom. Doyle and O’Shea occasionally slip into other characters with just a change in stance and accent. They bounce off each other excellently and are convincing as a young couple in love and under pressure. As the narrative evolves Knowing Nathan becomes something delicate and full of emotion; surprising the audience with how much they can feel in the space of an hour.

The duo make good use of staging and props; evoking the idea of home, parents, pubs, a hospital and an empty bed with simplicity and fluidity. Knowing Nathan is a beautiful play that moves with ease between humour and sadness; told with sincerity and skill. I went into this play not knowing what to expect but this was an evening well spent. There was a full house and a standing ovation at tonight’s performance. Book ahead to guarantee a seat.

Runs Until 27th January 2018.

SAVE + QUIT

First Written for The Reviews Hub

SAVE + QUIT – The New Theatre, Dublin

Writer: Sophia Leuner

Director: Billie De Buitlear

Two Londoners find themselves having to decide whether it is time to move on. Two former best friends in Dublin look to see whether tragedy can bring them together once more. Save + Quit are two short plays connected by themes of moving on; of closing one chapter in life and deciding whether to walk towards another.

This is writer Sophia Leuner’s first work for the stage. It shows great ability and command of language. Comedy rubs up against pathos throughout. Class and the social divides that define a city are investigated through each character and their relationships with others. The audience laughed at the Tallaght / Dalkey romance and the city being separated by more than constant road works. The regional jokes played well in the second Dublin based half which also had some great moments of storytelling.

The young cast do particularly well at mimicking and impersonating others, switching between characters with just a change of stance. Save + Quit portrays both London and Dublin as cold and at times outright hostile places to live with the only chance for salvation being found in friendship. The isolation of urban life is picked apart as Joe and Steph struggle to manage as they move fully into their adult lives and as Cara and Dylan struggle to reconnect.

The stage is occupied only by two chairs with spotlights on each character as they speak. The hour fliess by as the face paced witty dialogue keeps the audience interested. Save + Quit is a character driven story that is full of wisdom as it unwinds. Adult growing pains are portrayed delicately, casually and with verve.

Save + Quit is a study of how we react when life throws up obstacles and changes. It is full of humour and with enough sadness to make a real impact. Worth a watch.

Runs until 20 January 2018 | Image: Contributed

The Best Place for Love

First Written for The Reviews Hub

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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.

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score: 3.5*

Key Word: Unexpected