By Liam Murphy
From the May 6th edition of The Munster Express.
Devious Theatre in Kilkenny have been putting on plays for the past five years and their originality and vitality has been impressive at all times.
Their latest offering, aimed at a youth audience, Shifting is a comedy about making the first move and manages to explore new moves between twelve post teens stepping into the “black hole of uncertainty that is adulthood in modern Ireland.” Shifting is part of a trilogy of work with the Co. Kilkenny Arts Office, In The Future When All’s Well, where Morrissey lyrics take on the symbolism of Shakespearean imagery.
The young author and actor John Kennedy has written a remarkable work that is clearly character driven rather than issues driven as so much youth theatre is. If it was inspired by anything, it is probably influenced by Friends or Love, Actually and Kennedy keeps his characters real in a full length two act play.
This is a site specific work, turning the space into a yellow living room with sofas and duvets like a sleepover for Amy’s 18th birthday in her parents house. She is on the edge of growing up but anxious about shoe marks on the carpet, cake and popcorn and spilt alcohol. There are bay windows that create an interesting outdoor area and extension of the action, depending on where you are seated.
Part of me is thinking I’ve seen it all before, nothing new in this genre. But was I mistaken. Such is the ability of this young ensemble that I was taken into their world and shifted in the sense of having my preconceptions challenged. And if “shifting”is “kissing” in slang then I was kissed by the reality and theatrical magic.
The author John Kennedy played Jamie, the tongue tied boyfriend of Amy who brings a packet of yellow condoms and no card. His is a halting bravado and not only did I love his play, but I loved his acting. Alex Christle was excellent as Amy. Ruth Phelan in a yellowish coat was an eager, drunken Sarah and shone like a crazy diamond. Connie Walsh was a Sylvia Plath spouting poet with great ability. Colin O’Brien as Mark, the half naked chef was a scream and his vitality was manic. Alan Doyle as the weedy, needy Ed was a a standout performer of impressive ability and style.
Other essential performers were Rhian Gibson, Peter O’Connor, Adrian Kavanagh, Aoibhín Murphy, Geoff Warner Clayton and Jessica Walsh. John Morton directed with style, pace and great understanding.
Photo by Nathanael McDonald.