Project Arts Centre
This production, written by Emmet Kirwan and directed by Philip McMahon, is a fresh, dynamic, entertaining and powerful piece of theatre. I was caught as soon as Kirwan and Anderson entered, torches shining across the auditorium, immediately and crucially breaking the anticipated boundary between performer and audience. I must admit that, directly following that, my heart sank as Kirwan began to rap. I don’t like rap, or at least I didn’t think I did. However, within moments Kirwan had changed my mind. It showed the link between rap and poetry that I have always found it difficult to reconcile.
This strong beginning was maintained with a fast paced combination of narration and acted scenes. The transitions between narration and dialogue, between rap and natural speech, and between humour and hard-hitting reality were seamless. This was further complimented by the well developed, realistic characters and recognisable settings. Anyone who has walked around Dublin at night can picture these characters beyond the theatre space and into real life. This was down to a mix of skilled writing and excellent delivery from both actors.
I now wish to return to the combination of comedy and shocking truths I mentioned earlier. Though I and the rest of the audience laughed regularly throughout the piece, it was, at its core, a very hard-hitting, stark piece. The audience were laughing away one moment (though quite often ruefully) the would suddenly be silenced the next by a single line, a single image of the cruel, destructive reality of “the sesh” that Jason and Daniel live on. This was very powerful as the comedy drew the audience in and caught their attention for the more serious moments
In terms of design, the lighting of the performers on the bare stage was simple yet stunning. Sarah Jane Shiels’ lighting design managed to capture the feeling of the piece without ever over complicating itself.
In short, this production was, and I don’t use this phrase lightly, a tour-de-force. One of the most naturalistic and truthful yet somehow highly stylised pieces of theatre I have seen, Dublin Oldschool is a powerful snapshot into the world of “the buzz,” that should be seen by everyone that it can possibly be brought to.