Split Ends

Split Ends, Bewley’s Café Theatre

Split_Ends_Square_960_960_s_c1Performed and Conceived by Lauren Larkin

Writer: Lauren Larking and Aisling Byrne

Director: Aisling Byrne

 

Bewley’s has been turned into an upmarket hair salon, and in place, early as always, is Amy. She is ready to take on the day and confirm her position as providing the best curly blow dry in Dublin. Amy is very much someone who gets what she wants.

 

Amy, played by Lauren Larkin, is on stage as the audience arrives. She knows you have to work hard and wait for what you want. All good things come to those who wait. Don’t they? This is what Amy tells herself. Well, its what Oprah and facebook tell her when she needs them too. However, how long can someone keep waiting patiently with no deadline in sight? She has three regular visitors who are all good company with their own stories to tell. From the older woman who keeps talking to hide what is inside, to the harried career woman with too many plates to juggle, to the young girl who is preparing for her communion like it is her wedding day. The salon is where they find a few moments for themselves and over repeat visits Amy gets to know more about each one as they confide in her. As Larking slips in and out of each character with ease, their secrets start to unravel and in turn we start to learn more about the Amy that the outside world doesn’t get to see.

 

The title fits the play perfectly. Split ends develop after hair experiences weathering and damage. When left too long the split begins to lengthen. This causes irreversible damage and the split has to be cut off. Can Amy refashion her life into something new, or will the split ends continue to damage and break?

 

This was not the first outing for Larkin’s Split Ends. It was developed at FRINGE LAB and first performed as a part of the Dublin Fringe Festival 2018. It is always a pleasure to see a play develop and make use of opportunities like Show in a Bag; to explore what can be done with the script and to fully develop an idea.

 

The set has been very well designed. Larkin is always busy, folding towels, flicking through magazines and on the phone. One suspects that a local salon was raided for the day to provide the necessary props. This was a great touch that elevated Split Ends and added a note of authenticity to the production. Excellent timing is demonstrated throughout, with lighting designer Colm Maher working in sync with the action on the stage. The final emotional scene was good but could have done with a little more oomph. Several days after seeing Split Ends the impact had faded more than it should have done considering the climax cuts close and is slightly uncomfortable to watch for those who have recently shared the same experiences. However this speaks to the power of the central truth at the heart of Split Ends and the skilful way in which Larkin and Byrne have told this story.

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Appropriate

First Written for The Reviews Hub

Appropriate, Dublin Fringe Festival 2018, Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Dublin

Writer: Sarah-Jane Scott

Director: Paul Meade

‘Planning a wedding in Ireland is like preparing for war.’

Scott enters from a door to the left. Climbing onto the stage she drops her wedding bouquet on an empty chair in the middle of the stage. A white carpet is underneath; otherwise, the stage is bare. The focus stays on Scott for the entirety of the play.

Sarah-Jane Scott plays Sorcha. At first, she looks like a runaway bride. It soon emerges that she has slipped out of her own wedding reception and seems to be taking stock of her life; considering who she is and what she wants for the very first time. Her life to this point has always gone as it should. It has been perfectly appropriate. She has just married the man she already wanted, a former county hurling player who has always been kind to her. Surrounded by her mum and friends this should be the best day of her life. Sure, isn’t that what she has always planned. But if it is, why does she feel like hiding away?

Appropriate taxes the audience from Sorcha’s debs, where she saw off the competition in an entirely unorthodox manner to nab her man to the day they said ‘I do’. The journey is frequently hilarious, with Sorcha’s strong accent and turn of phrase bringing the audience out of their seat. Appropriate is the ideal play for a short break from the frequent difficulty of day-to-day life. The character of Sorcha is fully rounded. She sounds like a friend of a friend that you went to school with and fills her friends and acquaintances with Facebook envy, with her well-ordered life. She is a GAA girlfriend with a husband – to – be who is well respected in their rural community and a best friend who would tear strips off anyone who upset her.

Scott embodies the character and this play is clearly her creation as she takes control from beginning to end and makes the stage, and the audience, her own. With the rest of her life stretching out like railway tracks Sorcha has to make a decision. Will she choose the comfortable life that she has established for herself; being the queen bee of her small town, or will she take the road less travelled, and try to find a different her in the expanding future?

Appropriate has come out of Fishamble’s A Show in a Bagscheme that has created some wonderful productions over the years. This show is another example of how this programme and the nurturing environment of the Fringe Festival can bring talent to the fore.

| Image: Contributed