Writer: Don Mc Camphill
Director: Don Mc Camphill
Reviewer: Caitríona Daly
Vivarium by Don McCamphill is an interesting new take on contemporary Northern Ireland.
The play centres around Euan, an eccentric 13-year-old boy and Paul, his repressed drug-addled father. Touching on issues such as online communication and how disturbing and accessible it has become, gangland activity in Northern housing estates and the interesting new craze of vigilante ‘Paedophile Hunters’ the play has a lot to say with some nice characterisations but could have possibly explored one of these issues a little more. It is an intriguing story but faced with only two accounts of the events that occurred it, at times, leaves the audience in doubt as to what has actually happened, which may indeed be the point but if so it is unclear.
The one-man show is ably performed by John Travers and he warms up into his roles nicely becoming engaging and compelling to the very end. His performance of Euan is particularly heart-warming as we watch a child trapped and destined to grow up in a world of wannabe gangsters and cruel fates such as the one his father has succumbed to.
The direction, by McCamphill himself, can seem a little messy at times but this may be down to the space being in a thrust position whereas it may be used to proscenium. There is no design to speak of except for a large terrarium at the side of the stage and some affecting sound design by Joe Kelly. Overall the production could’ve benefited from a more cohesive and extended design, however, it is understandable with touring productions that sets and props are going to be a little light.
Vivarium is a dark and compelling show and one that we would not normally see in Dublin without the Fringe Festival and for that alone it’s worth the trip.
Runs until the 14 September 2018 | Image: Contributed