Bang bang - the sleekest presentation of the dirtiest show this side of the south east KoHL Kilkenny Youth Theatre’s most recent presentation was without a doubt testament that teenagers are trouble, big trouble.
In a show, which was devised by Droichead Youth Theatre with Sharon Cromwell, Barnstorm theatre’s young guns performed an outstanding, entertaining and convincing production that packed the Barn house and even had to turn poor punters away. Set in New York during the time of prohibition and gangster rule the narrative centres around private investigator Cole and his task of finding a missing girl. Kevin Brennan gave the audience a persuasive portrayal of the type of P.I we’ve come to know, the lonely but dedicated man who gets taken by the charm of the damsel in distress. He sure didn’t Bogart the show, Brennan was a generous actor playing and sharing the limelight with the rest of the talented ensemble.
The dame, (Niamh Kennedy) true to convention uses her sultry voice and red dress to convince Cole to take on the case of finding her missing sister, she played allusive enough to lure Cole into the game. Jack Eustace playing the ‘untouchable’ crime lord in charge of the booze and broads was a strong presence with his steel stare, his female counterpart Madame La bouche played by Eleanor Walsh, was the cold and in control female figure with conviction, while the journalist (Mary Whitty) who uncovered the whole dirty game was able to juggle the ditsy dancer with the ruthless journo looking for a headline. The working class bartender just looking to get by (Grace Kent), was strongly displayed as she supported those she was playing off, which is a talent few recognise.
The show was skilfully knitted together with the use of choral and tackle techniques, there was great talent on display in these roles - the two petty mob criminals (Shaun Meighan and Robert Galster) added the one liners with jokes that were purposely bad you couldn’t help but laugh, while the dancers added depth to the dangerous story. Each dancer, whether it was experienced Roxy (Orla McGovern), Cherry, Maggie May or lost sister Bella (Niamh Cusack, Eanna Doyle and Bronagh Kennedy) had her own distinct characteristic that was presented clearly and authentically - these roles were well cast and it was a great display of characterisation, they added significantly to the energy and timing of the entire show.
Significantly though, the choral effect was marvellously on display with the ‘The Furies’ (Caoimhe Brennan, Gemma Long, Jean O’Drisscoll & Eimear Walsh). The tone and mood of the performance was manipulated by these strong roles, they seeped in and seductively sweepted out of focus, their voices and presence was the added ingredient that made KoHL a show to remember.
The challenge with this production was the sheer volume of actors on stage, Anna Galligan Barnstorm’s Theare outreach officer and director of the show, was able to manipulate the audiences eye and strategical place and move the actors in ways that seemed natural of the film noir style. These movements of course were assisted by the impressive design and construction of the set (Harry Harris). In the cosy confines of The Barn the set was transformed into four locations, partitions swung open to immediately go from street scene to reveal the dancers dressing rooms or the bar. There were creative staging choices that also made this a polished production, the final closing scene, using space as the actors pose for their mug shots while the news reader sums up the sorry tale or descending from the centre door down the stairs. Jean Conroy’s aesthetic eye brought the attire and ‘garbs’ back to the period and revealed just enough skin and detail to all the characters costumes.
Not enough can be said for Kilkenny Youth Theatre’s production, sure they may be presenting life in the dirty streets but at least it keeps them off the streets!