The Caoining – The Ireland Institute, Dublin

Reviewer: Lara Kuhnis

Writer: Roman Vai and Catie Grainger

Director: Joy Nesbitt

The International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival is a wonderfully inclusive event, but it stands to reason that not every play will be a knock-out show; as was the case for The Caoining. Had one not read the synopsis, you would have been sorely lost during the performance.

The Caoining is a queer love tale of infatuation and intrusive thoughts. Two incel men, Patrick (Richard Neville) and Pete (Donnagh Mayock) find themselves locked in an online love affair over the idea of killing Patrick’s roommate, ‘The Banshee’ (Enya Donogue). An ambiguous spirit like character, Banshee seems neither human nor spirit. Banshee as character was gimmicky and entirely irrelevant for the storyline. Sub the character in with just a plain roommate, or no one at all and it would have still worked. In fact, it might be more comprehensible without the Banshee character altogether, who over-complicated the story.

The set, meant to depict a garden shed (where Patrick and Banshee live) – a clever and witty jab at the Dublin housing crisis; was cluttered with random objects, some of which I felt were misplaced. This all cheapened the play, and felt quite slapdash. It was truly the comedic writing of Catie Grainger and Roman Vai that gave this performance its redeeming qualities. Though it lacked comprehension, there were more than a handful of really amusing lines, delivered especially well by the character Pete (Mayock).

The Caoining has all the makings of a very interesting show, but on this occasion, it missed the mark and ended up looking like a school production, with forced and exaggerated acting. The Banshee’s constant screams was also something to be mindful of. If you’re planning on seeing this show bring earplugs!

It was definitely a good bit of fun being in the atmosphere of the audience. Similarly, writers Grainger and Vai have a gift for comedic timing and there were moments of genuine hilarity, specifically between the two men. Mayock playing Pete was the stand out of the show. Until he turned up on stage it felt quite flat and lacked that more mature stage presence. As a character, he elevated the show from mediocrity. Neville playing Patrick clearly fed off that energy, and by the end the two were a comedy duo; having the audience giggling in their seats. I must admit I enjoyed their unique chemistry!

Runs Until 18th May 2024.

The Review's Hub Score

Screeching Banshee

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The Reviews Hub - Ireland

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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