Stags and Hens Review
I’ve always been drawn towards devious theatre’s productions. My first experience with one of their shows was “Cannibal! The Musical” back in August 2007. I spotted one of the posters around Kilkenny for it and it lured me in immediately. Visually, they drew such a tangent to the usual shite you see slathered around on notice boards and in windows that it garnered a deeper look.
Fresh and Modern, the posters exhumed a professionalism and an attention to detail which I hadn‘t seen before ‘round town. Themes that would in turn run deep through devious theatre and set the bar for the actual theatre bit. Mad props to Paddy Dunne who cranks out Devious’s graphic work. Curiosity peaked, I attended and adored Cannibal. And with Stags and Hens, I was back for more.
The same graphic seduction grabbed me and I went about booking tickets after seeing the flyers. I was genuinely surprised when I heard from my better half that only 4 tickets were booked a night before the first show. I expected more to be sold, worried the rest of Kilkenny was missing out of this great tea-a-tar.
As always at the Watergate the staff and other devious helpers were sublime on the nite, props to ‘em. There was even a whiff of Belgian Waffles in the toilets there, I’m not sure if it was the urinal cakes or what but that shit was amazing.
I took my seat amongst a skeleton crowd. Well there were a few more than a skeleton crowd. Maybe a corpse in it’s 7th week of decomposition. A disappointing crowd for Devious to perform to I thought. I couldn’t get a hold of a programme unfortunately, just brought enough to cover getting in. Shameful. I’ve had to keep referring to the devious website to get names of actors for this review, it’s a right cunt. Any ways, the lights dropped and curtains spread.
The set was quality. Colours, lighting, construction and all the little details like the poster on the wall with the same date as the night I saw the show on pulled it together effectively. I’m pretty sure that date thing was just a coincidence though. Even so, I liked it. Along with the Blood Brothers reference. It cracked a smile from me. There’s only so much you can do with two sets of Jacks and hallway on stage, considering that, It was a damn strong set-up.
Now, down to the actual performances. I’ll be honest, I though the first few lines from the female part of the cast were shaky. Mairead Kieran in particular being the most guilty. It aired a kind of panto feeling. I loathe pantos. But thankfully they must have been opening night nerves because they disappeared quickly and all the girlies fell snugly into their roles. I thought they performed well on the night, not amazing, but pretty darn solid. Add a +1 positive to that statement actually. Pretty isn’t good enough, fairly would be an insult and saying very good is just so bland. I need more adjectives.
Cheers to Ciara for her portrayal of Bernie, always comical in her innuendos and never cringe-some. Jeers to Linda’s (Roisin O’ Reilly) and Peter’s (Eddie Murphy) little chat mid-way though. It was forced and lacked an honesty from both actors. The barbecue chairs had a more genuine care given to them. And, Linda never dried her hands after washing them. Tsk. I’m cunt for the details.
The lads put on a spectacular show. Ken McGuire stole it all for himself with his version of Eddy. The performance was given with such enthusiasm and genuine passion to the character at hand that it shone through. His confrontation in the ladies jacks with Linda was the strongest display of acting on show that night, apart from the unmerciful kick he gave that toilet door. Premiership talent that was.
The rest of the boys had strong performances too. Stephen Colfer was well suited to shy boy Billy, his inexperience in romantic escapades was heart warming. The nice thing about Colfer is that whenever the action isn’t placed on him, he’s still a joy to follow. I enjoyed his idling you could say. Seasoned vet John Morton as Robbie and relative newbie Geoff Warner Clayton as Kav rounded off the gang. Both with strong performances but Geoff at times came across as unconfident is his actions.
On the other hand Eddie Murphy as Peter, Mr. big-fish-small-town-rock-star seemed below par on the night. Not inexperienced, or unconfident in his delivery but more uninterested in his role. Not giving it his all. John Doran’s departure from exuberant soul to wrapped ‘round the toilet bowl was a great change of pace. His dedication to lay dying there for the whole show was immense. He must have had an iPod at the bottom of the toilet or something. I didn’t get the 2 fellows who wandered into the lad’s jacks during the show to what I can only assume was to make it seem like it was an actual bar gents. Way too infrequent for that effect, and they were pointless. The mood with the boys didn’t even changed when one walked in. What gives?
The themes of the play itself I enjoyed a lot. Devious had built a bit of a rep ‘round town as more of a shock theatre group with Cannibal and Train-spotting. This production made it clear that they’re capable of so much more. Superstition, tradition, pursuing dreams and working class discrimination are the main ones. Characters that weigh their lives against lines drawn by society of what’s right. Pussyfooting daily. Others that dream of the day when they’ll be whisked away from their little town yet stigmatize those that have done it by themselves. Tasty hypocrisy.
Tickets were 12 quid, got mine for 10 at student price and I felt guilty. You can’t really get lower than 12 bucks for a show. And what a show. My favourite from devious thus far and I can’t wait for the next one.
Best of luck guys!