By Liam Murphy
From the July 8th edition of The Munster Express
The excellent Devious Theatre Company completed their residency with Kilkenny Arts Office with an updating of another John Morton play – Smitten – a Kilkenny love story, a play that wants to be a musical. As ever there is a newness, a freshness, an in-your-faceness about Devious that does not have a Waterford equivalent – mores the pity. They seem to assemble excellent casts, time after time and convert spaces into site-specific performance places.
Smitten is a contemporary love story, as evocative as the movie Love Actually and as episodic. But by introducing a song and dance approach you got a trivialisation that is the staple of moon and June, Singin’ In The Rain type shows.
In Act I the stage changes to song and dance mixed with sketch type Fast Show routines diluted the contemporary message and even the bad guys and girls were beneath it all, good people – In The Future When All’s Well.
However, in Act II a more edgy darker story emerged but drunks were good drunks addicts didn’t OD and people agreed to begin again, give it another go, another lash as it were. Once again, the individual work of the ten person cast was impressive.
Director and writer John Morton played a pivotal role as easy-going tattooed Tommy but maybe this was a dance too far. Amy Dunne was a wonderful contradiction as the librarian who swore a lot. Ken McGuire was Dave the unemployed, remorseful drunk and he made the most of his appearances. David Thompson becomes characters and I loved his emigrating carpenter whose hands were always in bandages. He was the accident that kept on happening. Suzanne O’Brien was luminous as the ditsy Daffney Molloy was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz but there was no Yellow Brick Road in Kilkenny. However, it was Annette O’Shea as Claire the nurse who went and came back that brought a quality to an amazing place. I felt the standing ovation was particularly for her and a theatre company who make new theatre, obviously.
Photos by Pat Moore and Nathanael McDonald.