Writer: Shane Burke
Director: Andrew Deering
Reviewer: Ciara Murphy
Sisters, Sorcha and Abbey, are selling their house, but it is in need of a facelift. Sorcha hires Abbey’s ex boyfriend Eddie to paint the place and his presence exacerbates an already tense situation, catapulting their lives into chaos.
The first thing that strikes this reviewer about Old Flames is the script. Burke has an innate talent for writing funny, sharp and ultimately believable dialogue. He succeeds in providing just the right amount of tension, and throws in unique regional colloquialisms to add to the attraction and humour. As good as the script is, its representation on stage is very black and white. When it works, it works brilliantly, but on far to often an occasion it manifests itself as stiff and a little bit cringey. For a script of this nature to work, and especially with a plot that focuses more on what isn’t happening than what is, it needs to be consistent.
The greatest feature of this production is the relationship between Eddie and Abbey. There is a beautiful and natural awkwardness between the two, played by Cormac McDonagh and Ashleigh Dorrell. The pair’s onstage relationship is believable, leaving just the right amount to the imagination. McDonagh is the true star of the show, his performance is faultless, consistent and highly amusing. McDonagh alone seems to grasp the nuances of such an organic script and he is the glue that keeps the performance together. Sorcha’s character, played by Aoife Molony, has a benign cruelty which doesn’t work in this production. The coldness that Molony is attempting to achieve comes across as rigid and overdone.
The set, designed by Fionn McShane, gives a nice domestic feel to the show, and although subtle, brings out smaller moments in the script with great success.
The final moments of Old Flames brings out the true darkness, as the audience finally gets to find out how this story will end. The script falters slightly here as the audience know what is coming long before they are meant to. Old Flames has a lot of potential and Burke’s ability to write his characters is a skill to be built on. The play was enjoyable and entertaining and with a little more tweaking will certainly transform from a good production to a great one.
Photo by Sean Power, courtesy of Run Amok Theatre. Runs until August 9th