DramaDublin Theatre FestivalIrelandReview

DUBLIN THEATRE FESTIVAL: this is a room… – Project Arts Centre, Dublin

Director: Veronica Coburn

Creators: Cast & Dylan Coburn Gray

Reviewer: Sarah Hoover

When you are 18 (the cast members may not be exactly 18, but are all less than a home mortgage away), the future looms large. In this is a room… the Dublin Youth Theatre uses its most plentiful resource, more than twenty young people, to present a multiplicity of times and spaces. Simple stools comprise all the sets: a kitchen where a young woman ponders what she is learning (that a toaster without toast can light a cigarette) and what behaviours are allowed to adults (is it ok that a friend’s father winks at her?), a bedroom where a young man and his older brother are no longer in the same world, a series of rooms in which a relationship is played out from shy introduction to acrimonious divorce. Through it all, the angst of young adulthood is focused on one recurring theme: will I have a home? Will there be room for me? Or will I join the desperate people asking for help, sleeping rough, homeless?

The devising process for this is a room… has focused on presence and precision. We look at them, they look at us, they look at each other. We are aware of each others’ vulnerability, particularly in the current housing crisis, particularly for those starting their search for independence. Director Veronica Coburn has shaped the pacing and movement of the piece to display the confidence these actors have developed, and (a few problems with theatre craft like volume or timing aside) they fulfill their promise.

The script focuses our awareness on their lack of experience in the world and the possibilities in front of them (they guess the ages of audience members, remind us that they might be different at our age, or might not even reach it), which gives them a powerful draw on our attention. They know what they don’t know, and so replace lack of knowledge with imagination. Each pretend world is swept away by the next, each defined by unison or solo movement, narration, and demonstration played with confidence. This confident acting keeps the central question strong in our minds throughout the piece, not just for them but for all of us: will there be room for me?

Runs until October 1 2017 | Image: Contributed

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