Eamonn (From Menswear) – Review

Ill-Advised Theatre Company

Smock Alley



Photo Credit: Ste Murray

Eamonn (from menswear) is 25, a dad, and he is here to tell you about his life. Through a combination of rhymed verse, song and straight talking, Fionn Foley tells the age old story of a man learning to overcome prejudices as he faces the challenges that come with raising a family and traversing everyday life. Recounting his experience of working in a menswear department, of bringing up his daughter and of awkward encounters with his neighbours, Eamonn gradually reveals his closed “us and them” mentality. He thinks people are sound, as long as they are like him. As he works his way through the mundane challenges of life, he sees nothing wrong with this outlook, but all is not as it seems and Eamonn is about to be taught a serious lesson in a bizarre setting.

Foley creates an entertaining and engaging production, bringing it to life with his dynamic and enthusiastic performance. However, it must be said that the rhyming form was, at times, stretched to its limit and could have been more effective had it been interchanged with more prose style writing. When it worked, it was excellent, but at other times it felt as though the words were being roughly wrestled into verse. Despite this, Foley’s script is vivacious, madcap and delightfully frank. There is a self-awareness to his writing that wraps the audience around his little finger and has them rolling in the aisles. This is further complimented by Molly O’Cathain’s set design and John Gunning’s lighting design, both of which demonstrate a strong understanding of the space in which they are working and use the shape of the Boys School to great advantage.

Overall, though the basic plot is a time-worn tale, Ill-Advised Theatre Company put a fresh stamp on it in the exuberant and sharp Eamonn (From Menswear).

Eamonn (From Menswear) runs in Smock Alley until 6th August.


Spring Awakening – Review

Ill-Advised Theatre Company

Smock Alley


Spring Awakening is a heartbreaking story of innocence, oppression and discovery with an impressive score and powerful message. This production, directed by James O’Connor, is a competent and spirited rendition of it.

There was an impressive energy in the cast, with the three leads, Adam Tyrell as Melchior, Kevin C. Olohan as Moritz and Megan McDonnell, giving strong performances, both vocally and in terms of acting. Of the rest of the cast Shane O’Regan and Andy Carberry were particularly notable, with O’Regan switching between the character of Ernst, a shy schoolboy, and a rough reformatory inmate with such skill that it took me a few moments to recognise that it was the same actor. The only point that I would question about the cast is their manner of working as a chorus, though they worked well together for the most part, there were certain ensemble members who, at times, drew attention towards themselves when they were not meant to be the focus of the scene.

Though it is an intense piece, I found that the tension levels, particularly in the first half of the show, were kept too consistently high, leaving the actors with nowhere to go for the climatic scenes; there was little sense of intermittent crescendo. This was a pity as it meant that some of the stunning scenes like the number “Totally Fucked,” which was a show-stopping performance, did not stand out as much as they could have.

In technical terms the set and lighting were minimalistic yet powerful, with some especially beautiful features in Caoimhe Ní Fhaoláin’s lighting design at either side of the interval. I did however find the microphones used were an issue in terms of sound. While I understand why they were being used for the musical numbers, they needed to either be switched off for dialogue or the cast needed more practice using them as dialogue was lost or scenes broken by the sound of someone’s collar bumping the mic, a mic slipping or someone brushing their hand across it. This was an unfortunate issue as it sometimes distracted from what was otherwise a very moving and well-executed production.

      Though there were a couple of issues in directorial and technical terms, I feel that these can be easily ironed out as the run continues. Overall, Spring Awakening is a dynamic production that entertains and engages while portraying a potent and still frighteningly pertinent message.

Spring Awakening runs until Saturday 1st August.

Review – A Lesson in When to Quit

Originally published on The Public Reviews


The Cup Theatre Company

Theatre Upstairs, Eden Quay, Dublin

     A Lesson in When to Quit could have done well to have learned the lesson in its title. This show, written by Teri Fitzgerald and directed by Philip Doherty, began promisingly, but soon revealed that its only redeeming feature was that it was short. Billed as a comic, musical farce it opened with classic humour and gregarious gumption, however they fail to sustain this beyond the first quarter of the show.

Firstly, as a musical, the show lacked skill in composition and performance of songs, with many of them falling flat, losing timing and straying out of tune. This appeared to be partly down to poor writing, with the performers having to battle the timing of the song to fit the lyrics to the tune. Compounding this issue, the actors’ attempts to maintain their accents and vocal characterisation often took precedence over precision in performance of the musical numbers.

Also failing in creativity and skill was the lighting design by Shane McGill which returned regularly to an overwhelming red wash of the stage at every opportunity. The first time it was used, when the character of Dick Headski reveals his bad side, it was effective but once it had been used to portray further bad guy moments, a romantic evening between the leads, night time, and the fall of democracy to communism…well, it lost more than a little of its effect.

This could however have been glossed over had the gusto and enthusiasm displayed by the actors in the opening scene been maintained in the same vein. However, the script quickly deteriorated into crass, base humour. With coarse jokes made about sensitive topics, the female characters placed into stripper roles, some questionable portrayals of various countries and cultures, and a number of tasteless scenes added which made some members of the audience visibly cringe and shake their heads. And I haven’t even touched on the portrayal of mental health issues and Judaism. As well as being crude and contrived, many of these moments were entirely unnecessary to the plot and had obviously been added for the sole purpose of racking up easy gags.

     A Lesson in When to Quit took an idea that could easily have been a funny and endearing evening’s entertainment and turned it into a stream of crass attempts to garner a cheap laugh.