Review – what happens to the hope at the end of the evening

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Peacock Theatre.

Dublin Theatre Festival 4/10/2014

This gem of a piece directed by Karl James and performed by Tim Crouch and Andy Smith was a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. From the moment Smith walked through the auditorium, sat in his chair and began to speak, I knew I was going to enjoy the show.

Telling the story of an evening between two long time friends who have been apart for some years, the piece examines the changes in each of their lives, the changes in their friendship and in the way they communicate. In doing this, light is also thrown on how we communicate, on how we are present in a space with other people. This was an interesting idea told through a compelling story.

Crouch and Smith delivered top-notch performances. Smith moved between narration and acing out scenes seamlessly and Crouch brought the character of his friend who has lost direction, who hasn’t moved on like Smith’s character, to life with expertise. The two actors bring the characters credibly to life while still maintaining interesting stylistic techniques such as talking to and looking out towards the audience and only rarely looking at each other. These devices are very effectively used to convey the traits of each character; Crouch’s character in his own world, looking beyond the audience and Smith’s more settled, talking to the audience and acting as a bridge between the characters and audience.

The tale of these men’s friendship, of the evening they spend together and the many past spent is further reinforced by moments such as those when Smith asks the audience to shake hands with each other and asks them to take off their shoes. As well as drawing the audience further into the story, these features served to strengthen the ideas of presence and togetherness that were central to the piece.

In terms of design this was a simple piece. However, the fully lit set changes carried out by Crouch were, like every other aspect of the piece, very effective in maintaining and developing the tone of the piece. They meant that the audience was never torn out of the story by a blackout; there was a flow to the piece that gave it a very natural feel despite the unnatural devices such as the positioning of the actors’ gazes.

In short, this piece was a powerful and compelling yet comfortable piece of theatre that drew the audience in from the start and delivered a captivating narrative with startlingly real characters and a potent message.

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