Arts festival theatre reviews

UNCLE VANYA - Among the highlights of this year’s Galway Arts Festival so far was the visit of Bristol Old Vic and Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory with their wonderful co-production of Chekov’s Uncle Vanya.

Andrew Hilton’s superb direction elicited the full measure of both comedy and pathos from Chekhov’s keenly observed drama of thwarted lives. He also coaxed terrific performances from his exemplary cast, including Simon Armstrong’s vexed Vanya, Ian Barritt’s prickly Professor, Daisy Douglas’s lovelorn Sonya, and Paul Currier’s Astrov. This was a joy to watch from start to finish.

THE QUARE LAND

Decadent Theatre presented John McManus’s stage debut The Quare Land, directed by Rod Goodall.

A comic twohander featuring Des Keogh and Frank Sullivan, this was a comedy in which Keogh’s salty coot Hugh Pugh had a battle of wits with Sullivan’s property developer over the sale of a field.

Keogh in particular shone in the piece with a performance that mined much laughter from the audience. Sullivan had less to go on with his character, his role largely seemed to consist of being exasperated by Hugh, but he made as much of the part as anyone could.

McManus’s script was very funny, albeit with an element of predictability, yet he was very well served by his director and actors who delivered an entertaining evening.

CITIZENSHIP

Citizenship was Galway Youth Theatre’s lunchtime production, presented at Nuns Island. Scripted by Mark Ravenhill and directed by Niall Cleary, the play centres on Tom, its central character, and his quest for sexual identity as he tries to figure whether he’s straight or gay.

A nicely observed drama on the minefield of teen social and sexual mores and conundrums, it features Felim O’hAolain as Tom, Katie Steward as his close friend Amy, and a nice turn from Kevin McNamara as Gary in a cast of 12. While the piece could do with a bit more variation in pace and pitch, it remains an engaging production.

AFTERMATH

From New York, Aftermath, scripted by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, lays bare the human fallout from the Iraq conflict.

Skilfully weaving together interviews from Iraqi refugees, the play features harrowing tales of death, loss, and trauma as related by a cross-section of Iraqi civilians. Simply staged, with the actors occupying a row of chairs along the front of the stage, it features strong performances from its cast of nine.

The Quare Land, Citizenship, and Aftermath are ongoing this week. Tickets are available from the Galway Arts Festival box office, Galway Tourist Office, Forster Street, and www.galwayartsfestival.com

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