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From the June 29th edition of The Kilkenny Reporter
The trilogy of plays which have kept audiences in Kilkenny entertained finally comes to an end this week in the Arts Office with the last of the series, Smitten. Devious Theatre have used social media, clever marketing and brilliant design like no other group in the country to draw people into their crazy world.
It surely lives up to the hype – a pitch perfect blend of humour and pathos. Not one beat of this play fails to get a laugh or raise an emotion. It is an ensemble piece about a group of friends in their twenties whose love life it depicts in all the shades from technicolour to grey. This play is about the gap between our fantasies and the harshness of reality. The whole thing was like a beautiful dream which suddenly wakes you up to the horror of mundane life in Kilkenny. The main character returns from abroad to try to make amends for dumping her boyfriend by helping out other people’s doomed affairs.
The sense of place is very profound in the writing with names of streets and rituals raising a laugh of recognition. This work resonates beyond the colloquial though by finding truths in love affairs that everyone can understand. There are many techniques used to break it out to the audience and it never bores for an instant. This is Devious Theatre’s most straight forward and yet most manic piece, shifting gears constantly but never letting up for a second.
The use of the musical numbers is very clever. For anyone who groans at the way a Hollywood movie breaks out into song and everyone starts dancing, this will provide a cure. Too often we cynically dismiss these films whose romance and innocence hold a lot of emotion for our childhood selves. There is jazz hands but this is definitely a musical for people who hate musicals. A great big helping of filthy wit is at hand to contrast with the spectacle of umbrellas twirling and hoofing thesps.
The performances are as always uniformly superb. The two leads Annette O’Shea and Dave Thompson prove themselves to be the two finest actors to emerge recently from Kilkenny and it seems only a matter of time before casting agents come calling from the big time. Jack O’Leary and Amy Dunne are both hilarious as an odd couple who can’t stay away from each other. Ken McGuire and Maria Murray are really believable as the pair dealing with pregnancy, with the finest example of drunk acting I have ever seen on stage. John Morton equips himself well as the nice guy with a dark past and Suzanne O’Brien is just right for the girl lost in musicals. Even the stock characters played by Kevin Mooney and Lynsey Moran are made real by two lovely comic performances.
It is really sad for fans of great theatre that this residency is over. Everybody in the local arts office must be applauded for their vision in helping to make this the cultural event of the year in Kilkenny. If you don’t have a ticket for this play go and get one straight away. People will be teasing you for years to come that you missed it. The most important play and funniest night out you will ever experience in this city. You will leave it singing and dancing with a huge rush of joy to your heart. Theatrical Prozac!
Photos by Nathanael McDonald.
The day has arrived. D-day. Or S-day, depending on how you look at it. In just under 8 hours time we’ll be kicking off Smitten, the latest and final installment of our In The Future When All’s Well theatrical residency here at No. 76.
The seats are in, the venue has been dressed, the lights are hung, the stage is set, there’s all kinds of cables running to all kinds of places but most importantly, Smitten is ready to go for Kilkenny audiences.
It’s already ten days since we performed Smitten at Solstice as part of the Cork Midsummer Festival and ten days on we’ve added a scene or two, a light or two, and installed the show quite comfortably back into what’s been our home for the past six months.
On the show itself, it’s well worth noting that it does contain strong language and sexual references throughout. We’re advising a minimum age of 16, with parental discretion advised. Doors will open at 7:30pm, seating can be filled from 7:40pm and the show will commence at 8:00pm. Due to the nature of the show and venues, latecomers will not be admitted until a suitable break in the performance (interval). There will be one interval of 10 minutes maximum for folk to stretch legs, grab a breath of fresh air with smoking permitted outside the building only.
Tonight marks the first of a seven night run for the show, building on Scratcher (five nights) and Shifting (six nights) in order to facilitate demand for the work produced over the course of the residency. Our thanks to everyone who’s made the opening night possible, especially Mary and Niamh here at No. 76, Maeve Butler (Cillin Hill, seating), Vincent Dempsey and all at Barnstorm Theatre (Rostrum for tiered seating) and of course, you. Without you, we wouldn’t be doing the work we do.
A limited amount of tickets priced just €8 are available for tonight’s show, booking on 086 1048191 or in person at the Arts Office until 6pm and pre-show from 7:30pm. We hope you’ll be entertained!
Smitten performs June 26 – July 2 here at No. 76 John Street. Buy your tickets online, reserve via mobile on 086 1048191 or 056 7794138 (office hours). The box office is open 10am – 6pm daily with tickets for the week priced just €12. For more, visit DeviousTheatre.com.
We’ve been working overtime on turning No. 76 into Kilkenny’s nicest, prettiest black box theatre space over the past few days and we’re nearly there!
It’s been a tough few days building, drilling, plotting, lifting, staging, teching, lighting, tea drinking, dancing, dressing, painting and theatre making but we’re on schedule to open Smitten tomorrow night with a bang.
The logistics of lighting the building have been completely different as we don’t have the natural darkness that Scratcher gave us in February or the real time light transition afforded to us in Shifting. Here, we need to block out all light and make a theatre.
And for the first time we’ve really made a go of turning the Arts Office into an actual theatre space. A lot of black paint has been used up, a lot of black curtains have been drilled in and 3 backstage areas have been put into place. And as for the set… well, it looks pretty theatrical.
But I guess theatre is the name on the tin, right?
Come see what we’ve done with the place when Smitten opens at 8pm tomorrow night in the Arts Office! The discounted opening night tickets at €8 are still available here. Bookings can currently be made on 0861048191.
A question for every member of the cast of our current play Smitten.
Ken McGuire (Dave / Producer)
What was your reaction to the uptake of singing and dancing in this version?
I’m all over it. There wasn’t half enough dancing in Cannibal! (2007) and the last time I danced on stage I wound up getting shot in the head as a result. I learned my lesson. Flash forward four years though and I’m looking forward to it. The dance rehearsals have been good craic and fair play to Gemma for putting up with us for the past few weeks. If you’re able to get over the fact that you’re dancing and prancing around like an eejit, then you’re sorted.
Amy Dunne (Cat)
Considering you’ve done 2 plays as part of the same season. Have you found any similarities with the concerns of your character here and your character in Scratcher?
Similar to Cat, McC was frustrated and wanted to take control of her situation. Cat is alot more reserved in her emotions but still manages to get her point across. McC however is alot more spontaneous in her actions and doesn’t think things through as much. McC would definitely beat Cat in a physical fight but I’d imagine Cat would tear McC to shreds verbally. They’re great ladies really!
John Morton (Writer / Director / Tommy)
So where next for Smitten? A book? The big screen? Another version in three years time with even more dancing and singing?
I’d love to do it again in 3 years but I think it would probably be more beneficial to use the same characters when I’m in my 30’s to talk about my 30’s. I have a screenplay and there has been some interest in it (which is me not trying to jinx it by saying from where) so I think ideally, I’d love to see it being made into a film. But yeah, I’ve been writing those characters since I was 17 and I figure I’ll get a lot more out of them. Whether people want to listen to them or not is another thing entirely.
Kevin Mooney (Niall)
Having directed and produced so many plays for us, were you excited to just be acting this time?
Yes. It’s nice to just worry about your own performance. I haven’t been onstage in quite a while though, so I was a bit nervous about getting back into it and shaking the dust off. But I’m really enjoying concentrating on the acting side of things. It’s been both relieving and terrifying.
Lynsey Moran (Ailbe)
Do you think the play gives an accurate view of Kilkenny? Or just not at all?
This play does show a side to Kilkenny, the side that we see when we’re in our twenties and do not know where our lives are going! Kilkenny is a beautiful place but like every twenty year old, we all need to leave at some point!
David Thompson (Kevin)
You weren’t in Smitten the last time. Seriously, what did you think of it?
I sat with Eddie Brennan who kept making snide remarks about the actors, he thoroughly ruined my theatrical experience. When he wasn’t talking, I really liked it, and all my friends were in it! This Smitten is much better though…
Maria Murray (Bronagh)
How have you found dance rehearsals on this production?
I have this theory that John and Gemma have actually collaborated to dance us all to death. Feeling a pain in places I never knew existed. But it is so much fun but fast, so many fast dances. Thursday mornings were my favourite rehearsals because at least when you were doing something embarrassing everybody else was right there doing it as well.
Annette O’Shea (Claire)
Your character Claire is pretty much the lead in this production. How have you been finding it?
The lead? I think it’s more of an ensemble! I have been finding it… tough I guess. But very exciting and exhilarating, the craic is had everyday. I never take for granted how lucky I am to be working with such a brilliant company and so to be apart of that ensemble is fantastic. I am just out of college going into an uncertain business in an uncertain time so to be blessed with acting work of a professional standard is great. I get to work with amazing actors and an amazing company who have taught me so much. I am currently going through a time of great transition in my own life, like Claire, so I can certainly relate to her situation in a small way. That helps. I am really looking forward to getting onstage and giving Claire a chance to say her piece.
Jack O’Leary (Tony)
So, what’s your favourite musical and why?
Coincidentally enough The Wizard Of Oz because of the very clear literal views on what the characters are, view and want. Its actually quite simplistic and basic story telling but with a unique sugar coating that I’ve never seen before… Also it works really well with Dark Side of The Moon when you’re baked.
Suzanne O’Brien (Daffney Molloy)
You’re being well kept out of all the promotion (apart from this). How does that feel?
Ah sure lookit, it’s grand. It’s fun to be the character who’s doing something a little different to everyone else.
Smitten plays Kilkenny Arts Office from June 26th – July 2nd at 8pm nightly. It marks the final part of their In The Future When All’s Well residency. Tickets can be bought here in the Arts Office or booked on 0861048191. Online bookings can be made at tickets.devioustheatre.com
Music is always a really big part of all our plays. We always figure that it just goes hand in hand with good dramatic expression.
And as play that’s trying to be a musical, Smitten is no different. It’s not like the party playlist of Shifting or the rabble rousing background drone of Scratcher. This is a unique beast made up of old time, classic musical numbers, modern dance hits, 80’s pop classics and some good old thematic tunes.(The pictures show the nice cd’s Paddy made up for the cast and crew)
Here’s what you might be hearing when you visit No. 76 from June 26th – July 2nd:
Tar and Cement – Joe Dolan
I Wish I Were In Love Again – Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney
Singin’ In The Rain – Gene Kelly
All My Friends – LCD Soundsystem
Close To You – The Carpenters
Theologians – Wilco
Sweet Summer’s Night On Hammer Hill – Jens Lekman
Worrying Is Wasteful – Supernova Scotia
Dancing In The Dark – Bruce Springsteen
Oh, Heart Don’t Be Bitter – Simple Kid
Cheek To Cheek – Fred Astaire
Age Of Consent – New Order
Silently – Blonde Redhead
4th Time Around -Bob Dylan
Old Town – Phil Lynnot
Worms – Beth Orton
Somewhere In My Heart – Aztec Camera
My Maudlin Career – Camera Obscura
Hope you enjoy them when you come see the show. Some are sang, some are underscore and some are danced to. But they’re all important. You can’t have a musical without the music, right?