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Having seen this play in a smaller more intimate venue I did wonder how the play would translate to a larger more formal setting, and on the whole it worked for me.  Although I did not buy into the emotion as much, I understood the story much better.  I would have liked to have somehow gained a little more involvement, but that is just a personal feel.

I liked the overall direction from Catherine Marsh, the way she moved the men around the stage and from character to character kept the pace and flow of the piece, with no interruptions to the way the script runs.

The projection of a herd of cows onto the screen accompanied by some authentic Irish music was very evocative, which really set the scene.   I liked the clarity of the backdrop, with the film edging and the stone rostra.  The lighting was good throughout and enforced the various nuances of the script.

The props were very cleverly manipulated by the two actors, along with their small changes of shirts, jackets etc, to mark the different characters.  All skilfully achieved.

The small venture into Irish dancing was so good, and very amusing – creating a nice diversion from the pathos.  There were several gently amusing departures, that relieved the tension of the more dramatic happenings, which kept the audience engaged.

David Lodge and Andrew Faber created a wealth of different characters, whilst always maintaining their lead characters of Jake Quinn and Charlie Conlan. Fifteen characters in all, shared between the two men was a big ask, but they succeeded in making them all very real.

I would have liked a tad more projection from Andrew, particularly at the start, and from both characters when they were in church for the funeral, as it was quite difficult to hear what they were saying, and in this piece every word is integral to the plot line.  I liked the projection on the side flat, it helped create the religious feel.

I must admit that I had a strange fondness for the two female characters – Aisling, the production assistant from David Lodge, was strident and very much in charge, whilst  deferring to Simon in a completely different way to how she spoke to the extras!  The hat was an excellent prop to mark the character.  Very well accomplished.

Andrew Faber gave us the other female character, Caroline Giovanni the star of the film – the soft, rather arch but coy woman that emerged when Andrew turned, took his jacket off and draped it round his shoulders, was so tangible, no mistaking who he was supposed to be.  Again well accomplished.

Of the other characters I loved the regression to the young Sean and Fin from both men – a charming but disturbing scene, bearing in mind what transpires.

I particularly enjoyed David’s portrayal of Sean Harkin, the unfortunate young man with his lifelong interest in cows, who committed suicide by walking into the river with stones in his pockets.  I really felt his disturbed mind and his reliance on drugs.  

Not my most favourite of plays, but much to admire technically and in the portrayals.  Very well done to all concerned.

Hemel Hempstead Theatre Company


review date: 7th July 2017 - Boxmoor Playhouse

Director: Catherine Marsh

Choreographer: Amanda Ling



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