Shauna Carrick Wants a Dog – Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin

Reviewer: Emma Devlin

Writer: Shauna Carrick and Conor O’Rourke

Director: Mollie Molumby

Shauna Carrick Wants a Dog is a sweet and thoughtful musical that explores the effects of the pandemic and the struggles that young adults face in this particular time period where 30 sounds adult but it’s still perfectly common to be single, living at home, and unsure of what the future holds. Shauna Carrick and Conor O’Rourke have done a lovely job of writing several catchy little numbers that bring lightness and humour to some serious topics surrounding mental health, isolation, and the perils of the doom scroll.

Carrick plays herself, just back from living in London where she was trying to make it in theatre, and now living at home with her parents during the pandemic. She is a very likeable character, quick to a bit of self-deprecation and very honest about her own perceived faults and idiosyncrasies, and Carrick plays the part very endearingly. Joining her in the story are Ciara Lyons as Shauna’s long term best friend Claire and Seán Mac Dhonnagáin as local horse-box barista Sam. The casting is great; Lyons is delightfully bubbly and bright in her role and brings lots of comic relief, and Mac Dhonnagáin is a charming potential love interest. The story follows Shauna’s attempts to get her life on track during a period of time when getting your life on track is nigh on impossible, and it’s primarily a story about the need for friendship, support, and being kind to oneself, even when it feels so difficult to do so.

Niamh O’Farrell-Tyler has designed a simple set that makes good use of the stage and Shauna Ward has done a great job with the costumes, particularly with Lyons and Mac Dhonnagáin who go through some simple but effective costume changes. On stage accompaniment from Aidan Byrne and Barry Power is well executed and feels natural, almost as if they are part of the story.

All in all it is a pleasant way to spend an hour, it feels as though it could be developed into a longer and larger piece, but as it stands it flows very easily. At this point in time it does feel that the topic of the pandemic has been covered in many different ways and so the subject matter is a small bit played out, but the key messages regarding the need for community and the willingness to ask for help are timeless and as relevant as ever. It’s a heartfelt and heart-warming offering with well written tunes sung beautifully; worth a watch!

Runs until 18th September 2023.

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The Ireland team is currently under the editorship of Laura Marriott. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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