Written and Directed by: John Breen
Presented by: Gyre and Gimble Productions and Verdant Productions
Reviewed by: Ciara Murphy
Written and directed by John Breen, Alone It Stands, is an epic journey through the highs and lows of the historic Munster versus The All Blacks rugby match at Thomond Park in 1978.
Before the play begins, the audience already know what the outcome will be once the final whistle blows. Thanks to excellent direction, a simple set and astounding comic timing, the experience of how the characters get to that point is really the important part.
There will always be some trepidation when a playwright directs his won work, but in Alone It Stands, this choice only serves to enhance the experience. A play with such a sharp, pacey and energetic script needs an experienced hand at the steering wheel and the delivery of this piece appears effortless.
All of the characters perform well, maintaining their multiple character rôles and keeping the audience’s belief in their many characters in tact. John Merriman and Stephen Jones stand out as the supreme comic duo with changes in their physical demeanour making the changes between their many characters flawless. Sam McGovern also excels as his energy and commitment to each rôle could not be faulted.
This piece certainly panders to its Irish audiences with its parody of Irish identity in its various guises strong throughout. This is something that works well and serves to get the audience on their side right from the start. One wonders however how the representation of the Irish and the New Zealanders would go down in New Zealand!
There is a very obvious absence of an external sound source in this play but the decision to keep the sound within the bounds of the actor’s abilities means that it really packs a punch. Much ado must be given to the Singing and Dialect coaches, Cathal Synnott and Cathal Quinn. The set is simple and it functions well, contrasting with the chaos onstage.
All in all this is a supremely entertaining show, its only flaw is that, at times, the comedy can seem contrived and it occasionally strays past the bounds of comedy into the realm of pantomime. There is no doubt however, that the audience thoroughly enjoy this piece and this is easily overlooked.
A wonderfully entertaining evening.