Gays Against the Free State – Review

Originally published on The Reviews Hub

Tiger Dublin Fringe

Smock Alley Theatre



We voted yes on May 22nd 2015, so that is it isn’t it? Everyone is equal now, are they not?  Gays Against the Free State is here to remind us why that is not the case, why everyone is not equal. Drawing inspiration from many sources, this production, written by Oisin McKenna and directed by Colm Summers, is a sharp reminder of the ways people can be left behind as change occurs, a reminder of the importance of intersectionality in campaigning.

While the message the production expresses is still a fresh and pertinent one, there are times when the production’s chosen means of expression come across as worn and trite. The parody of Irish celebrities and stock characters is entertaining to a point, but after a while it feels like the piece is just painting a picture of the problems without providing any comment on them.  When Gays Against the Free State dispense with the loud stereotypes, pare back their performance style and speak directly to the audience the true point of the production shines through. These couple of minutes of intensity and natural speech pack more of a punch than any of the pointedly satirical pieces that precede them.

That said, there is a lot of skill in the construction of the more elaborate scenes. From Seamus Ryan’s musical score (performed by Mark O’Donnell and Ryan) to Hugo Lau’s entertaining and acerbic video sequences, the design of the piece is excellent.

Gays Against the Free State is a promising production that delivers an important message but too often falls back on worn stereotypes and tropes to convey it entirely effectively.



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