Review – “Heartbreak House”

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The Abbey Theatre
19th August 2014

The Abbey Theatre’s producion of “Heartbreak House” certainly did not leave me with heartbreak; an evening of belly-laughs, a mind buzzing with thoughts and a smile on my face were definitely the orders of the day. This production, dircted by Roisin McBrinn was, with the exception of a few minor faults, a joy to watch.
The performances were excellent overall with the right balance of credibility and absurdity injected into each character. Mark Lambert gave a stand-out performance as Captain Shotover, capturing the eccentricities and wisdom of the Captain with style and skill. Kathy Kiera Clarke and Aislin McGuckin were also very impressive, bringing the roles of Hesione and Ariadne to life with expertise. In this family that is falling into disarray with a world that is following suit around them due to the outbreak of war, each character must be defined and maintained exactly to capture the change in each without losing the tone of the piece. This balance was certainly found by each actor.
The setting in which we found these characters was beautifully created by Alyson Cummings’ dynamic and interesting set design and Paul Keogan’s lighting which made use of reflections and shadow to great effect. The lighting and sound within the final scene provided an excellent contrast with the more subtle, sedate lighting changes during the rest of the play, further highlighting the change that had come about in the world.
My only gripes about this production were minor slip-ups that didn’t take from the production as a whole but did, I found, drag me out of the moment and disconnect me momentarily from the piece. These minor errors, a poorly excecuted fall here, a badly positioned slap there were, I think, more matters of polish than true faults. I hope that as the run continues these are the type of mistakes that will be ironed out as it would be a shame to have small, easily rectified mistakes detract from what is overall a very good production.
“Heartbreak House” was a well executed, thought provoking and at times truly hilarious comedy that I would happily pay for a ticket to see again!

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