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By Darragh Byrne

From the April 27th edition of The Kilkenny Reporter.

Devious follow the success of Scratcher with the very different but equally as striking Shifting. The second part of their ‘In The Future When All’s Well’ trilogy in their Arts Office residency, this is about teenagers adrift in our modern abyss and kissing each other to make up the gaps in between.

The structure of the play is of an 18th birthday party where a bunch of expectant and slightly drunken girls wait for the lads to arrive and most importantly a cool band who are on their way down from Dublin.

In the second act all the secrets and lies come forward as the party goers are even more inebriated and there is the violent arrival of a third party with a hurley. To pass the time there is banter, casseroles and shifting: lots of shifting.

Written for the first time by a new writer who isn’t established, Devious have taken a gamble on a young playwright not yet out of his teenage years. John Kennedy has repaid this gamble with a fine piece of writing which is very tense and funny but equally not afraid to handle dark matters. Showing a huge maturity of approach while keeping an ear for his age group’s turn of phrase, this never feels forced or gauche.

John Morton, Ken McGuire and Angela Barrett must all take a bow for helping this young cast onto a larger stage. All veterans of youth theatre, this massive leap to a professional environment is made seamless by the quality of the blocking and their superb performances.

Peter O’Connor is the confused heart of the play, annoyed that his friends have left him behind. Alan Doyle is incredible as the boy trying to grow up to quickly at all costs and John Kennedy himself delivers a lovely turn as someone caught between romance and his hormones.

The girls too are uniformly excellent – Alex Christle is the American birthday girl who is struggling with her past, Aoibhín Murphy the Spar worker who will do anything to escape Kilkenny while Ruth Phelan who manages the tricky thing of making a drunk party girl flesh.

Special mention must however go to two character parts who stole the show – Connie Walsh was brilliant as the Sylvia Plath wannabe, while Colin O’Brien was a revelation as the Darina Allen obsessed chav.

Now this party is over it is sad that there isn’t a place for these superb actors to hone their craft, as for the next generation of young thespians locally there is only pantomime and musicals. Devious have proven two things with this play – that there is a hunger as well as a need for this kind of theatre that reflects teenager’s lives without condescending to them. John Hughes himself – that great chronicler of teen life, would have walked out of this play punching the air to the tune of ‘Don’t You Forget About Me!’

You can find this review, and more, at DeviousTheatre.com.

What just happened? One minute we’re getting ready to open Shifting. Next thing you know we’re in rehearsal for Smitten.

That’s how we roll.

Shifting has been laid to rest, the Arts Office transformed back to some sense of near normality but we’re already rocking and rolling our way into production number three as the entire cast (bar one) of Smitten meet later this evening at No. 76 to read through John Morton’s much revised and developed / redeveloped / rebooted script. We’ve a ton of photos and more besides to bring you as well as a bit of a retrospective but for the moment we’re getting things set here to get back into the swing of things for Smitten.

Be warned – you may start to see photos of us dancing and prancing around No. 76 and if you’re calling in in person, please don’t be scared. Or just call in and watch or join in the craic. Lord knows it’s going to be a ball. More on Smitten for you in a few days when we announce the official dates, details and tickets.

The following review appeared in The Kilkenny People on Wednesday April 27th 2011.



By Tess Felder

Published in Wednesday 27 April 2011 edition of The Kilkenny People

Devious Theatre Company: The Next Generation arrived with a bang last week.

Presenting Shifting, with a new cast including new writer John Kennedy, their sharp, highly comedic performances met with standing ovations on opening night and throughout the week.

Directed by John Morton, it’s the company’s second of three plays to be staged in the Arts Office as part of their six-month residency. The play tells the story of the lovely teenage Amy (Alex Christle), whose 18th birthday party is a celebrated success, until it all goes horribly wrong.

A sort of Dazed and Confused for the current Kilkenny generation, it’s full of teenage crushes, laughter and a few tears, and even a Matthew McConaughey-older-brother-interloper type in the form of a braided-hair, rough Englishman David Thompson. (A Devious play just wouldn’t be the same without him, would it?) Being written and performed in Kilkenny, there were also added laughs for local references such as being kicked out of certain venues for being underage.

With a cast of 13, there were plenty of diverse and well-shaped characters to love, or to love to hate – the latter honour going to an outstanding and hilariously unpredictable Colin O’Brien as party-crasher Mark.

The playwright himself was on the mark as Jamie, the birthday girl’s boyfriend with one thing on his mind: her virginity; and Peter O’Connor as his best friend Jim captured the confusion of a teenager not sure which girl to ‘shift’, not sure what to do with his life, and whether to grow up or to stick around playing Guitar Hero for another year. And your heart had to go out to Connie Walsh’s Eimear, the lovably sweet, socially awkward, Sylvia Plath-devoted poet whose heart was destined to be broken as the night wore on.

There are so many clichés about young people being the hope of the future etc, etc, etc. In this case, it’s deviously true.

Shifting is done and dusted. Six nights, sold out. Six night, six standing ovations. While we gather our thoughts on everything, here’s some of what you may have missed. Needless to say, Bohemian Rhapsody will have taken on a whole new meaning for those involved in the show 🙂

Shifting - Alan Doyle as Eddie

Pic above: Alan Doyle as Eddie / Ed / Edward / Edbert (even)

Bohemian Rhapsody Gets In The Swing

Pic above: L-R: Peter O’Conner (Jim), Aoibhin Murphy (Laura), Geoff Warner-Clayton (David), Alan Doyle (Ed), John Kennedy (Jamie)

Mama... ooooooooooooh

Pic above: Peter O’Conner (Jim), Aoibhin Murphy (Laura)

Guitar Hero

Pic above: John Kennedy as Jamie. He’s so good on Guitar Hero that he can even play two player mode, by himself, and win. When we said every element of our set was functional, we meant it.

The Curtain Call

Pic above: The curtain call on dress rehearsal night. Visible cast (L-R): Adrian Kavanagh (Eamon), Jess Walsh (Anna), Aoibhin Murphy (Laura), Colin O’Brien (Mark)

The above photos taken by Nathanael McDonald Photography on the dress rehearsal night of Shifting (Sunday April 17th)

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Art at No. 76

The aim and focus of the Art Residency at No. 76 is to enable the successful applicant to research and develop their practice. Other aims of the residency are to: give insights into how and why artists create their work, build relationships and further promote the Arts, provide an awareness and further appreciation of the Arts, cultivate and develop new audiences. The Kilkenny Arts Office is part of ArtLinks.ie

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