(Not) Belonging – Review

This is Happening Collective

Samuel Beckett Theatre

Tiger Dublin Fringe



Devised and performed by Matthew O’Dwyer, Áine O’Hara and Sorcha Flanagan, (Not) Belonging is a deeply personal exploration of what it means to be a young person finding your feet in the world. Often funny, often serious, this production will strike a chord in some way with everyone who has worked to find their place in life.

The piece opens with each performer introducing themselves, setting the personal and open tone for the rest of the piece. Through a variety of performance styles each performer’s unique but connected experience of finding a place to belong is brought to life. The collective work brilliantly together, feeding each other’s energy in performing; it is obvious that this show was very much a collaborative effort with a balance of each voice shining through.

Deserving of a particular mention is the set, designed by Gemma McGuinness. With a main set piece which I can best describe as a versatile book of backdrops, the set was simple and innovative, providing a setting perfectly suited to the style of the performances. The only glitch in the design of the performance is the projection work. Though it is a good idea, and parts of it worked, because of the surface it was projected onto much of it was lost and I found myself being distracted from the performances by trying to work out what the images were. This is however, a minor issue that could be easily resolved. Overall the stage design was simple, well-planned and effective.

(Not) Belonging is an interesting and impressive piece of work from this emerging Dublin theatre collective. Shows about young people and teenagers can often stray into the territory of distanced patronisation but this piece certainly does not. Written from the hearts of the collective, written for their personal exploration of their experiences, written to connect with people who feel or have felt the same way as they do, (Not) Belonging is an engaging piece brimming with the vitality and drive of its creators.

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