And Then There Were None

First written for The Reviews Hub

Writer: Agatha Christie
Director: Renee van de Schoor

Ten strangers receive a mysterious invite to a dinner party on an isolated island.

One by one, their various sordid pasts catch up with them.

One by one, they are accused.

One by one, they meet their end.

Theatre company No Drama today launched their new play And Then There Were None to a sell-out crowd at Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre.

As the audience enter the theatre two actors are already onstage. Dressed as a maid and a butler they are cleaning, tidying and silently bickering. Eventually they begin to speak and the play begins. Characters arrive individually and in pairs, having travelled to the island to see Mr and Mrs Owens; the hosts of this group holiday excursion. However only the maid Ethel, played by Triona Keane, and butler Rogers, played by Noel Cahill, are there to greet them. They too are waiting on the missing couple. As stories are shared one becomes aware that no character has ever met the Owens’ and the confusion as to why they are there and who they all are begins. Soon a gramophone record is played, according to prewritten instructions. In it each person is accused of being complicit in murder.

Based on Agatha Christie’s masterpiece, And Then There Were None is the mystery play at its finest. To this day it remains the world’s bestselling mystery novel so is quite an undertaking for a theatre company’s first production of the year. The tension rises as the characters begin to unravel. Fingers point and suspicions are raised at the slightest of thing. Each actor plays their part wonderfully and moments of humour are capitalised on; from the clever use of props, such as a bear rug and the strange humour and facetiousness of Lombard, played by Peter Blennerhassett. Kate Cosgrave stands outs as Vera Claythorne, showing her spirit and her fear impressively.

The sound effects are subtle and lighting used to heighten the feeling of entrapment. At one point the stage is lit primarily by candles. The room becomes darker as the play deepens. Will anyone make it out alive? This simple change in lighting has a significant effect on the atmosphere, emphasising the feeling of isolation. Scene changes could be a little smoother, however. The stage has turned into a drawing room. A sofa and chairs in the centre with a well-used drinks cabinet to the side and a door leading to the heart of the house to the left. This is Renee van de Schoor’s first outing as director and we will hopefully see much more from her in the future.

And Then There Were None is a taught thriller that keeps the audience enraptured as they try and work out who is the killer at the same time as the characters. The two hours fly by and this production shows why this story is a classic. An evening that was suspenseful and entertaining.

Runs until 28 January 2017 | Image: Contributed

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score: 4.5*

Key Word: Suspense


First Written for The Reviews Hub


Honest – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre, Dublin

Writer: DC Moore
Director: David Horan
Reviewer: Laura Marriott

Is honesty always the best policy?

Meet Dave. A frustrated civil servant surrounded by bureaucratic incompetence and hypocrisy. We step into Dave’s life as he seems to be entering some sort of existential crisis. Lying, he argues, is a part of life and it is only the less pleasant or caring who are always honest. After all, who really wants to be given the brutal truth all of the time? However, on this night Dave finds he no longer has it in him to keep telling the lies that are needed to not rock the boat. This new found inability to lie causes havoc on a work night out as he looks around him with bewilderment at the events around him. After a conversation with his boss in which he is more truthful than is advisable he embarks on a quest through the dark corners of inner London before finding himself in a suburban garden.

The one-man play is carried excellently by performer Kevin Murphy. His strong Welsh accent rises and falls as he takes you through one emotional night. The audience starts laughing early on in the play and continues right until the surprisingly deep ending that punches through the barrier between performer and audience member. Dave’s working life in the civil services provides a rich vein of humour. This move towards complete honesty means that he is not always the most attractive of characters; however, Murphy softens him, making him fully rounded and recognisable. Murphy fits this part perfectly and he carries the audience with him on this late night expedition. The theatre is cosy and brings audience members into the eye line of the actor. It feels intimate. It is very easy to get lost in the action as the time whizzes by before landing on a surprisingly powerful and touching final note.

Honest is a 45-minute lunchtime show but is probably one of the best stage productions to hit Dublin this year.

Runs until 26 November 2016 | Image: Contributed

The Reviews Hub Score: 4*

TDFF: Late Night TV Talk Show

First Written for The Reviews Hub


Created by: Cian Kinsella and Cormac Mohally

“The action packed talk show that’s all talk and no action”

Dublin’s Project Arts Centre are hosting the Late Night TV Talk Show as a part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival. The audience are greeted as they enter the auditorium by a man dressed in a bright green priest’s robe who shakes hands and has a trade in dirty jokes. At the same time a man wearing a rabbit mask is acting as DJ, the decks stacked on top of an ironing board, nibbling on a raw carrot. This same carrot is later used as a weapon against a giant cat. This genre defying show takes the form of a one hour late night TV talk show; low budget entertainment from the talented but somewhat idiotic brothers Sean and Seamus, also known as The Lords of Strut. Cian Kinsella and Cormac Mohally play both characters and also a host of others who join them on stage. At one point they are joined by a tight leather trouser wearing Michael Flatley, a cat with blue fringing, and perhaps most magnificently their mother; who delivers slapstick and rude humour aplenty when pulling a member of the audience onto the stage.

The energy never dips as they embrace their dream of hosting their own show. Very quickly however everything starts to fall apart and go wrong; with hilarious consequences. They are acrobatic and talented dancers. Scenes of gymnastic proportions are peppered among the absurd and the thrilling set pieces. Music and coloured lighting are used throughout to add to the atmosphere and help ‘warm up’ the audience. Although jokes are made about the set the costumes have been specially designed to allow for maximum comedy. The laughs kept coming as the show progressed.

Kinsella and Mohally are fresh from a successful tour of Australia and Late Night TV Talk Show is their welcome return to the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival. They began as street performers before going on to win the Street Performance World Championship in 2013. Go into the show with an open mind and allow yourself to be carried away by this one of a kind performance.

Warning: some audience participation required!

Runs Until 24 September as part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival | Image: contributed

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score: 3.5*

High Octane


First Written for The Reviews Hub


TIGER DUBLIN FRINGE FESTIVAL: Risk – The New Theatre, Dublin

Writer: Diane Crotty

“Risk is risk and consequences are consequences …”

RISK is a two handed drama thriller set in 1966 London. A crime family from Dublin have been forced to move and are making their new home in London. Join them as they prepare to set out their stall and take over.

However their plans are thrown into disarray when shortly after they arrive in London the father dies leaving his two daughters unprotected. Frances and Agnes are unwilling to be pushed aside or taken advantage of. It is time to come out fighting and the organised and powerful Frances will be the one taking control. However Agnes’ innocent look and soft words are misleading. She is a puzzler; she sees patterns and understands people in a way that both her father and now her sister rely on.

At first they take turns speaking before breaking into conversation. The language and action are fast paced in this enjoyable journey into the city’s underworld. It is perhaps unusual to see two women leading a crime empire however they pull it off with aplomb. With words alone and few props they succeed in creating a vivid picture of the life they are living and their personalities burst through. The use of two sisters as the main characters keeps things fresh and surprising. It is a well written and tight play from writer and director Diane Crotty who has managed to tap into an underused narrative vein.

Particular attention has been paid to the costumes. Agnes, the younger sister played by Susan Barrett, is dressed in a soft pink dress with plain silver heels. Her hair loose around her face. The effect is almost girlish and innocent. In comparison France, her older sister played by Lisa Tyrell, is far more pulled together. In sparkly silver heels, a fitted dress and her hair pinned up she looks professional and in control. Further although the set design is simple it is effective. One silver chair with black and pink upholstery next to one wooden stool. The pink and silver matching the actresses outfits. Their personalities and actions are reflected in their clothes.

This is a strong festival debut from Dublin based Whisky Tango Foxtrot theatre company and hopefully marks the beginning of a long relationship between the company and the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival.

Runs until 24 September as part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival | Image: Jass Foley

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score: 4*


TDFF: To Hell in a Handbag

First Written for The Reviews Hub


Writers: Helen Norton and Jonathan White

Reviewer: Laura Marriott

“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from lack of imagination.” – Oscar Wilde

To Hell in a Handbag explores the, until now, secret lives of Canon Chasuble (Jonathan White) and Miss Prism (Helen Norton), two fringe characters from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Miss Prism is best known as the woman who accidentally left a baby behind in a railway cloakroom and left with a handwritten manuscript in a handbag. On the face of it Miss Prism is the image of a perfect governess and Canon Chasuble a respectable middle aged rector. Behind the image though they are living tempestuous lives full of negotiation, deception, false identity and black mail. And most importantly money. Both characters have fascinating and surprising back stories. The play is deeply funny. The one liners are excellent and well played; both Norton and White having a knack for timing and comedy.

The stage is small but well utilised. A desk covered with correspondence, a seat and small table hiding something medicinal! To Hell in a Handbag is set during and around the events of The Importance of Being Earnest. Lines from the play are heard over loudspeaker from time to time to move the action on and introduce the less well known characters to the audience. Both Norton and White are experienced actors having undertaken a wide variety of celebrated work on both stage and screen. This can be seen throughout as both actors show skill and nuance, playing each line to full effect.

The play does a good job of going behind the public face to the confusion and absurdity of the private life of this seemingly staid, proper Victorian pair. This is To Hell in a Handbag’s premiere so it will be interesting to see if it goes on to develop a life of its own as many previous shows developed in association with the popular ‘Show in a Bag’ initiative have. This year’s Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival has brought many new plays to the Dublin stage, giving both theatre makers and audiences the chance to experience something new and fresh. Good humoured and more than a little farcical To Hell in a Handbag follows in Wilde’s footsteps and creating an entertaining and comedic spectacle for all to enjoy.

Runs until 24 September as part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival | Image: contributed.

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score: 4*

Key Word: Funny

TDFF: Eggsistentialism – Smock Alley, Dublin

First Written For The Reviews Hub September 2016


Writer: Joanne Ryan

Reviewer: Laura Marriott

Meet Joanne. It is the morning after her 35th birthday and she is hungover. Deflecting calls from her mother she has started to question the life she is living. Spurred on by her fathers’ recent death and her milestone birthday she realises that her fertility has an expiry date that is fast approaching but so far she doesn’t even know if she wants children, let alone when and with whom.

As she tries to decide what she wants she is helped by her mother, a fertility clinic, online quizzes, radio counsellors, fortune tellers and her unwitting side kick, her new boyfriend Rob. This is a one woman show performed by writer Joanne Ryan. The show strikes a particular resonance, as this reviewer observed that this generation of Irish women have more control over when they become pregnant than previous generations. Her mothers’ story also features heavily, having also shaped both of their lives. After becoming pregnant with Joanne, aged 32, she was single and unsure what to do. Ireland in the 1970s was not such a friendly place for a single mother so she found herself moving to bedsits and hostels in London so that she could have control of her own body and raise her daughter as her own. Although the subject matter is quite serious it is told in a very funny way and her mothers’ ‘Irish Mammy’ one liners make the audience laugh out loud.

Using a two seater sofa and movable table as props there is also a large screen set behind her which she occasionally interacts with. When rattling though the history of the women in her family and the way in which they were shaped by the Irish state’s interventions into their lives, the screen comes alive with facts, images and humorous ideas.

This is a well written and honest performance that will make you stop and think, as well as laugh with joy. Ryan gives a strong, powerful, comedic performance that lasts in one’s memory and opens the audience’s mind with her honesty. Interrupted with poignancy and delicacy Eggsistentialism is a surprising watch. This is one woman’s deeply funny and brave journey to decide if making a life for herself should involve making another. One of the Fringe Festival’s must see performances.

Runs until 17 September as part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival | Image: Ken Coleman.

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score: 4.5*


TDFF: Age of Transition

First Written for The Reviews Hub September 2016


TIGER DUBLIN FRINGE FESTIVAL: Age of Transition – The Peacock Stage, Dublin

Creator: Aoife McAtamney

Reviewer: Laura Marriott

Age of Transition is a dance concert featuring Aoife McAtamney as star and singer, three dancers, and three musicians. The production hopes to explore different phases of love through the means of sound and movement. McAtamney sings seven self-penned songs that take the audience into a story of love and wondering. One highlight is a particularly beautiful song about wanting to be married and waiting for that moment to occur, waiting for the diamond to be offered. McAtamney has an endearing voice and these compositions allow her to show this. She is accompanied by three dancers who use slow gentle movements that change and accelerate with the feeling of the music. The dancers work well together and their movements flow with a natural feel. In a semi-circle around McAtamney are three musicians, a cellist, pianist and electronic musician who work in sync with the other performers while never overpowering the vocals. Each musician is particularly talented however the cellist Mary Barnecutt deserves particular praise.

McAtamney, stands out from the seven person production, wearing a gentle pink dress, with the others dressed in more muted, earthy tones. This productions and others like it help to show what can be done with such a simple staging. Having previously performed in sell out show at the festival this is a welcome and successful return for McAtamney. However Age of Transition is also a collaborative performance including work by composer Michael Gallen, Berlin dance troupe Sweetie Sit Down, and design by visual artist Kelly Tivnan.

For those familiar with this interdisciplinary form – the joining of music, dance and visual arts –will find much to delight in with Age of Transition. Those less familiar will still be entertained, however the musical interludes appeal most, with some of the dance breaks feeling slower and perhaps less meaningful. Running at an hour long Age of Transition holds the audience’s attention throughout and shows off McAtamney’s beautiful voice and song writing skills. Overall Age of Transition is an enchanting exploration of love and self – actualisation.

Runs until 16 September as part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival | Image: Cáit Fahy.

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score: 3.5*



Pink Milk

First Written for The Reviews Hub June 2016


Pink Milk – The New Theatre, Dublin

Writer: Lauren Shannon Jones

Director: Nora Kelly-Lester
Reviewer: Laura Marriott

Pink Milk was created by Dublin’s The New Theatre artists in residence Lauren Shannon Jones and Nora Kelly-Lester. This writer and director duo have offered up an interesting one hour show in the form of Pink Milk. This is a dystopian fantasy, considerably different to their previously celebrated works Crow and The Assassination of Brian Boru. The New Theatre Residency Programme has given many artists the chance to develop their craft and this show suggests that Jones and Kelly-Lester are moving in the right direction.

Anna Matthews, played by Megan O’Flynn, lives alone on the top floor of a high-rise apartment. As she points out she is so high up even the clouds are below her. She never leaves her home and her only visitor is the delivery man. He waits outside her door with her parcels wearing a mask and tentatively trying to ask her out. There are some laughs and tender moments as he shows his interest in Anna and the audience seemed to be able to relate to the awkwardness of a relationship at its very beginning.

Both characters are trapped in their isolation. It is not just physical. The high-rise apartment keeps them apart from the rest of mankind, however they have both adopted different versions of themselves in alternate reality. Online Anna is a media goddess. The stage darkens. O’Flynn stands in the centre. White squares and futuristic music play out in the background as she dons her headphones and preaches the religion of entertainment to her followers. In this life she is a media goddess, so very different to the wary person who lives alone, receiving boxes of white clothes in the post. Her life is always ordered and controlled until she begins a relationship with the delivery man Auster, played by Shane Robinson.

It is slightly scary to see how the seeds of digital control and isolation are sown and could easily turn into the twisted world view that Pink Milk presents. The way in which our online lives impact upon our day to day life and relationships is interesting and current. As Auster spends his spare time playing video games with strangers online we see that he is just as alone as Anna. No longer investing in anything outside of their virtual lives; they seem to have separated themselves from their work and their pasts in order to be able to cope with the reality they find themselves in. This dystopian love story is flooded with loneliness as the characters create and hide behind their masks to avoid facing the bad things that they have done.

Unfortunately, Pink Milk tells but doesn’t show. It seems that the characters have to tell the audience what they should think and feel because the plot and characters are not showing us this. Innovative ideas are let down by lack of narrative drive, with little for the audience to sink their teeth into. The poignant, somewhat sad ending is the highlight as our protagonists are finally drawn together; offering a peek into their lives before they invested themselves online. Pink Milk shows the seeds of a unique idea that with further development could turn into something special.

Runs until 9 July 2016 | Image: New Theatre

The Reviews Hub Score 2.5*


Harold Pinter: The Theatre of Menace

First Written for The Reviews Hub May 2016

Theatre of Menace

Harold Pinter: The Theatre of Menace – Smock Alley, Dublin

Writer: Harold Pinter
Reviewer: Laura Marriott

PurpleCoat Theatre Company begins their annual visit to Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre this May with the The Theatre of Menace. More generally known for their electrifying Shakespeare productions, they are attempting something new with a night of short works by Harold Pinter. This is an unusual move, however, it quickly pays off. The Theatre of Menace is a remarkable collection from one of the 20th Century’s most celebrated playwrights. Although the extracts are relatively short, it is long enough to become intrigued by Pinter and inspired to find out more.

The staging is sparse. One table is draped with a white tablecloth, a photo frame perched on top and two chairs is all that takes up the space during the first half. Each new extract is introduced by a light shone onto the brick back wall of the theatre. The performers are lit by spotlights, reflecting the constant interplay between light and shadow that occurs on stage. Throughout the performers only wear black and white. For the second half, a second table topped with wine glasses is bought onto the stage and extra chairs are dotted around. The lack of clutter and lighting gives room for the excellent cast of actors to breathe life into Pinter’s language and the relationships he imagined. The staging adds to the feeling of intimacy, of being allowed to witness something personal taking place.

PurpleCoat has a way of bringing out the ambiguity and darkness that seems to lurk beneath much of Pinter. The characters, often under pressure, find themselves in unusual situations,  such as in A Kind of Alaskaand Mountain Language. Here power and language take centre stage in a truly sinister way that perfectly encapsulates why this collection of Pinter’s has been titled The Theatre of Menace. In other stories, the characters deliver unusual but deeply telling stories. The heartbreak of the one man speech from the second act of The Caretaker is so convincing the audience cannot feel but a little taken by surprise, almost punctured by what they have seen. In contrast to this humour, switches to strangeness and fear in Victoria Station, where it is impossible to fully tell who is good and who is bad. A late night conversation between and taxi driver and his controller begins with hilarity before taking a turn for the surreal and then dangerous. Danger runs throughout the production. The night closes with Celebration. Celebration manages to be both humorous while also revealing of the strained relationships that almost seem to be falling apart on stage.

It would have been wonderful to have seen some of these shorts in their full form, especially as PurpleCoat prove themselves easily able to rise to the challenge of interpreting Pinter’s tragi-comic language. Interestingly they move between his early and later career, avoiding chronology and instead linking the pieces together by theme. In this Theatre of Menace, the characters always seem to be on the edge and, indeed, that audience will find themselves on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.

Runs until 21 May 2016 | Image: PurpleCoat

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score: 4*


The Olive Tree – The New Theatre, Dublin

First Written for The Reviews Hub May 2016


Writer: Katie O’Kelly

Director: Davey Kelleher

Reviewer: Laura Marriott

“She’s speaking to me. The olive tree …”

The Olive Tree is one of the more surprising and brilliant offerings from Dublin’s The New Theatre this year. A one woman show written and performed by Katie O’Kelly it begins, and ends, with an over worked shop assistant watching the clock tick down to the end of her shift. The Olive Tree is remarkably funny and light throughout despite the sometimes dark emotions that are evoked as history literally apparates before her. In a magical twist our narrator, who had been hoping to make the last bus before putting her feet up for the night in front of the TV, finds herself being spoken to by an olive tree. This tree takes her on a journey through Israel and Palestine and back to Dublin again. All of this is done without O’Kelly’s feet ever leaving the ground.

What ensues is a strange mix of humour and sometimes heart breaking images as the audience is taken on a journey into the conflict of the past, present and future of Israel and Palestine. This has particular relevance in a country that has seen so much fighting and separation itself. Much of the dialogue, particularly near the beginning, is in verse. The lyrical and intelligent language is delivered in O’Kelly’s strong Dublin brogue which helps to make the political personal. Eschewing the minutiae of political debate that can often occur when discussing such broad and ongoing conflicts; individual stories that one can relate to are used to bring the reality of life for many others in the theatre.

The play raises questions of what can one person do to influence the world around them. When everyone is so busy with the details of daily life the drama and misery happening every day in another country, on another continent, can seem very far away. O’Kelly makes the audience question themselves and the way in which they live. The symbol of the olive tree is very profound. It is an image that represents the bridging of peace between two groups with its seeds and roots also acting as a powerful metaphors throughout the play. Importantly to the story olive trees can also live to be hundreds of years old, witnessing the changes going on around them, and in turn bringing our narrator into the thick of life in the West Bank.

The set is kept relatively simple. Multi coloured lighting is used to emphasise changes and emotions but otherwise the story is allowed room to tell itself. A spiral of yellow and red boycott stickers take up the centre of the stage and mark the spot where O’Kelly remains for much of the performance. This perhaps also helps to reinforce the political beliefs that underwrite this project. It is a difficult thing for a performer to hold the attention of the audience without other characters or a dramatic setting to react off of and yet O’Kelly manages this.

It is an excellent example of magical realism on stage which hopefully The New Theatre will see more of in the future. As O’Kelly takes multiple curtain calls The Olive Tree is undoubtedly a success and heralds a strong and individual voice in Irish theatre.

Runs until 7 May 2016 | Image: courtesy of The New Theatre

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score: 4.5*