Writer: Ross Dungan
Director: Ben Kidd
Reviewer: Ciara L. Murphy
What are people capable of? How well can you really know someone, even if they are your own flesh and blood? Ross Dungan’s new dark family dramaBefore Monsters Were Made asks its audience these questions in a gritty, daring, and tense new production.
Presented by 15th Oak ProductionsBefore Monsters Were Made tells the story of the Colgan family and a small community in Ballina, Co. Mayo who are dealing with the tragic disappearance and death of a 14 year old girl. David and Abigail Colgan, played by Peter Coonan and Orla Fitzgerald, are having marriage issues. At first aninexplicable tension between Abigail and her father-in-law Vincent Colgan (Lorcan Cranitch) propel this domestic story into its darkest territory. Abigail does not trust her father-in-law following rumors that he may have had something to do with the girl’s disappearance. Several years later when the Colgan’s own daughter Maggie (played by both Zena Donnelly and Ava McKevitt) goes missing the question of Vincent’s involvement once again returns to the table.
Before Monsters Were Made is delightfully tense, with the sound and lighting design serving to enhance this. Director Ben Kidd deals expertly with the non-linearity of Dungan’s script, making these moments the most engaging of the show. Zia Holly’s set design deserves a special mention. The vast and imposing domestic setting that she creates allows the show to illuminate the multiple layers of action that occur in the script.
This is a show that keeps you guessing, and despite one’s greatest attempts, manages to stay one step ahead of the audience at all times. The characters represented onstage are both realistic and intriguing. It truly feels as if one is peering in the window of this family’s home and watching what is happening inside. Coonan, Cranitch, and Fitzgerald are fantastic, sparring off of each other with an overwhelming onstage chemistry. The audience have no idea where to place their trust and we follow each minute detail in the attempt to make sense of the story.
15th Oak Productions have had prior success withReckonersduring the 2014 Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival. The creative partnership of writer Ross Dungan and producer Robert Kearns is a force to be reckoned with. What this company excel in creating is a powerhouse of dark, domestic tension and Before Monsters Were Made is no exception to this.
This show is a must see.
Photo courtesy of 15 Oak Productions. Runs until May 16th.