Break in 13 words by Darragh Doyle ... "Captivating, physical, sympathetic, pity invoking, challenging, perfectly cast, brilliantly performed believable tragicomedy. Wow." ...
Read Darragh's full review below ...
I really liked this show.
Do you remember what age you were when you first realised your teachers were people and that what they did was "only" their job? I was probably 14 or 15 when it hit me first and I'd like to think it changed the way I dealt with them and made me give them a bit more respect. I'd like to think that. It's probably not true.
BREAK, as you'll read, is a staffroom show and presents a situation few of us would be able to deal with. What happens when something goes wrong at work? What happens when despite best intentions, what should happen doesn't happen? Can't happen? Are teachers the best people to deal with some things that happen? If not, who is?
Anyone who has seen 'I Alice I' or 'Eternal Rising of the Sun' will know Amy Conroy is a great writer and performer. In BREAK she has gathered other great performers and delivered one of the more realistic, intense and terrific shows I've seen in quite a while. She's made a staff room interesting and delivered a new insight into what teachers have to deal with. I found this play to be very well written, expertly cast and performed and very much one that gave me a different insight into a teacher's role.
There's laughter, romance, jealousy, frustration, shopping, screaming, fighting, kissing and more in the play - more than enough to satisfy the most demanding of audiences. There's a build up too to two events that you'll want to see happen, but will they?
//"How in the name of God did it come to this? Unacceptable. Do you think this is reasonable at a time like this? Do you think I like having to come in and face this? Give out? I'm not paid enough for this. You're teachers for God's sake".//
There's clever staging in BREAK - the sounds of the schoolyard, the sound effects, the lighting all give the show a substantial feel. Simple dialogue introduce Jan, Jeff, John, Karl and Margaret/Mags who have to deal with Kelly, an external person brought in to deal with the third years after an event.
And so let's talk about Kelly, played by Elayne Harrington.
Those familiar with Temper-Mental MissElayneous will know she has a distinct, independent and forceful style of delivery and BREAK capitalises on this, delivering one of the most enthralling Irish characters on stage in ages. It's difficult to imagine anyone else playing the role and Elayne does it with an enviable comfort, almost ignoring the fact she's on stage at all. She was perfectly cast and acted expertly. She was, quite simply, great to watch.
Similarly all cast played their roles with credible and quite often personal details. Some I'd seen in roles before - Clare Barrett has a great knack of picking believable characters - and others I hadn't but I wrote "Perfectly cast" in my notes four times last night. They're delivering demanding performances and doing it well.
//"There are always kids that you don't like. Nobody prepares you for this. The ones who want you to like them but you can't".//
While a tragedy is at the heart of BREAK, there are many comic parts. Teachers - for who else could guffaw so loudly at the Croke Park reference - dotted the audience last night and were distinguishable by their knowing laughs, sighs and exclamations. It's not just for teachers though - anyone interested in what goes on for people dealing with teenagers should watch.
See it for the laughs, for the buzz between Kelly and the teachers, for the build up to two revelations, for the pure laugh-out-loud moments and the divilment in the show. Bring a teacher if you know one. They'll love it too.
Thanks Christine/HotForTheatre for the invite. Very much appreciated.
Darragh saw BREAK by HotForTheatre at Project Arts Centre.
Runs until Saturday 21 September 2013 in Project and then travels to Draiocht Blanchardstown for 2 shows, Friday Sept 27 and Saturday Sept 28, 8pm, Main Auditorium, as part of Dublin Fringe Festival on Tour. Tickets €16/€14 conc.
Book Here or phone Box Office 01-8852622
Break is written by Amy Conroy
Directed by Veronica Coburn
Lighting & Set Design by Paul Keogan
Cast includes: Clare Barrett, Amy Conroy, Elayne Harrington (Temper-Mental MissElayneous), Damien Devaney, Tom Lane and Mark Fitzgerald.