I am a Bird Now – Review

Theatre Upstairs




Image by Ste Murray


Written and performed by Ross Gaynor, I am a Bird Now traces the distinct but intertwined threads of identity and trauma through three acts, titled Bruce, Donna, and Anthony (the three names the character assumes).  As the character traverses the evolution of their own identity and relationships with the lingering effects of a number of traumatic experiences, including having worked as a nurse after the July 2005 London bombing, we are invited to understand the difficulties this has created and the high and low points of their experience.

Under Sheils’ direction, Gaynor delivers a strong performance throughout, capturing the physicality of the character and layering the different aspects of his character with dexterity and skill. There are points at which the pacing of the narrative seemed drawn out further than necessary, and may have benefited from being condensed. However, the gradual building and exposition of the character is, for the most part, well-woven and produces a strong character whose strength is in their imperfection. With the recurrent images and symbolism of the vitruvian man, masks and costume, visual representations of the character’s questions around their gender identity are interwoven throughout the design and performance.

This symbolism is conveyed well by Naomi Faughnan’s set and costume designs, with a large image of the vitruvian man dominating the stage and the trappings of a dressing room surrounding it. Similarly, Eoin Byrne’s lighting design captures the liminal state the character inhabits, with the balance of light and dark providing a visual manifestation of the character’s evolution.

In an incisive exploration of identity in crisis, I am a Bird Now brings a multi-faceted character to the stage and lays bare the good, the bad, and the ugly of their humanity.

Revolver – Review


Sugar Coat Theatre

Theatre Upstairs Dublin


Described as “an imperfect couple’s search for the perfect date,” Seanan McDonnell’s Revolver is a funny and thought provoking piece of theatre that delights in the word-play and gradually growing web of interlocking information that it creates.

This production tells a simple story of two people on a date with “everlast.com” where they can press a button to reset their date at any point if something goes wrong.  This leads to a cycle of sometimes similar, sometimes wildly different first impressions, conversations and conclusions in the search for the perfect date.  Though the repeated, cyclical nature of the script can sometimes begin to feel repetitive, McDonnell adeptly holds the audience’s attention with clever word-play and sharp one-liners.

Capturing the comic timing of McDonnell’s lines sharply and playing with the script’s theatrical self-awareness, both Colm O’Brien and Charlene Craig as Ben and Bea deliver engaging and entertaining performances under the direction of Matthew Ralli.

Revolver prompts the audience to think on interesting questions about love, honesty, deception and perfection. There is a subtle but definite dark undertone, suggesting an impenetrable, inescapable search for perfection. However, first and foremost this is an hilarious and entertaining piece of theatre that, as the gales of laughter from the audience can testify, is well worth a watch.

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.