Me, Mollser – A DYT review

This week, swathes of Droichead Youth Theatre members flocked South to the barren and unfamiliar land of Central Dublin for performances of Me, Mollser in Samuel Beckett Theatre. Adapted from the O’Casey classic The Plough and the Stars by Ali White and directed by Sarah Fitzgibbon, we asked our members to give their thoughts on the piece and Susan Davey’s one woman performance.

Beautifully performed, Me, Mollser gives a different insight into the lives of the children living in the Dublin tenements of 1916. The perfect length for a one man/woman show, it captured my attention and left me feeling very grateful for the times we live in.   -Muireann Mulholland

For those unfamiliar with The Plough and the Stars, Me, Mollser seems to evoke a sense of extreme importance in the titular character within the larger text. In fact, Mollser merely plays a small role in the original, appearing only in passing. The fact that entire one-woman play could be made from such an insubstantial character is an impressive feat in itself, exemplified by its simplicity, and it’s ability to convey the turmoil and trouble inherent in such a tumultuous time in Irish history to younger people.

Making effective use of a minimalist set, we meet fifteen year old Molly Gogan, affectionately referred to as Mollser by those around her, we are given the sense that she has almost had a normal childhood stolen due to years of political upheaval and familial strife, stemming from the death of her father from tuberculosis. Such is the power of the performance that we are immediately drawn into the short life of this character, who manages to fully engage us with the times that surround her with a set comprised solely of decrepit shoeboxes. It is with these boxes that Mollser depicts her ideal home to the audience, taking her cue from a doll’s house from a shop window, Mollser wishes to reclaim any semblance of a childhood she may have left, under the guise of this house being for her younger sibling. A younger sibling she is not even allowed to touch, as it is heartbreakingly revealed she has contracted the same ailment that claimed the life of her father.

Along with the denial of her familial bond, and her newly-realised mortality, the outbreak of the infamous 1916 Easter Rising further disrupts the life of our young protagonist, causing unimaginable damage to all those around her. However, even the luxury of a swift death is stolen from her, as Mollser eventually succumbs to the grave illness, and signals her passing with a simple yet powerful walk from the stage. It is at this moment that we are reminded of the childlike sense of distress that we once felt at the death of our favourite character in our favourite story. We have become so acquainted with Mollser and the world she inhabits, that the sight of a tiny coffin with her name engraved upon could almost be too much to handle were the play half an hour longer. A short, sweet, and excellent performance, Me, Mollser stands away from the gargantuan shadow set by it’s predecessor and sets the bar for concise and informative theatre. -Aaron Finnegan

I thought it was engaging from start to finish and explained the living conditions in the tenements in a way that made it accessible/relatable to the audience. I’m studying the play for leaving cert and it made the story seem more real to me because it visually showed me the house and how characters were seen by another character in the play. I thought it was engaging from start to finish and explained the living conditions in the tenements in a way that made it accessible/relatable to the audience. I’m studying the play for leaving cert and it made the story seem more real to me because it visually showed me the house and how characters were seen by another character in the play -Leanne Vaughey

Me, Mollser was a simple one woman show which in my opinion, portrayed in a comedic but honest way what life would’ve been like circa 1916. The show’s simple set, costume and extremely personal script brought the audience into the mind of this young girl, Molly or “Mollser”. Even more so the interaction and inclusion of the audience and this storytelling aspect with conversational language, the whole thing made it a very enjoyable and intimate performance to watch.

I came away from the performance with an immense amount of empathy for those from the past, and I think the show did an excellent job of being informative but also keeping it very light hearted. -Stephen Reid

Me, Mollser was fantastic, being a simple to stage one-woman show, but with a complex and fascinating story regarding a 15-year old girl in Dublin at the time of the 1916 Rising, brilliantly performed by Susan Davey. The script was well-written, being simple to understand for all ages. Top-class theatre, a well-written, well-directed, well-acted piece which doesn’t use fancy props, costumes and SFX as a crutch to lean on. Clean, simple, brilliant. -Niall “The Roque” Gibbons

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What to Make of the Auld Limbless Lad – A Review by Jack Synnott, Daniel Duma and Louis Flanagan

The Poor Little Boy with No Arms by One Duck theatre company and were simply wowed by the production! Here’s what some of our members had to say on the piece:

“One Duck’s theatre company’s production of The Poor Little Boy with No Arms blends absurdity and familiarity, darkness and a light touch, and ultimately, humour and horror, to produce a powerful, dark piece which entertains and terrifies. From the hilarious performances and the all-too recognisable characters to the excruciating real final third, the play’s wild laughs and horrifying themes serve to make Skibberceannaigh, Ireland’s “Most Liveable Community”, an island which feels incredibly real and equally frightening. The play’s wit seems at times unstoppable, with a never-ending run of gags hitting the audience at a relentless pace, but when the play slows down, the viewer is left questioning they thought they knew about this town and the Poor Little Boy himself. All of this combined with an outstanding production and a fantastic ensemble make this play an experience which is bound to delight, amuse and shock in equal measure.” – Jack Synnott

 

“One of the principal successes of the play is the ever present intrigue. Who or what the Poor Little Boy exactly is left a mystery up the very end of the play, which many conflicting tales being given to the viewer meanwhile. Some of the details that would be inconspicuous plot holes in any other play become fairly integral to the main plot e.g. Why do no children above five years of age go to the school Ruby teaches at? Even at the very end, the fate of Ruby and the Poor Little Boy are both left unknown. It will leave you at the edge of your seat at times, to be unoriginal. The disconnect between the happy Skibberceannaigh that Ruby is introduced to and the sinister underbelly it really is, is highlighted very well in terms of effects and sound design. The stage opens filled with smoke as if to say “There’s a mystery here that you need to solve”. On top of this, all the sound effects are done a cappella as far as I could tell, giving an extra layer of tension to this oddly tense play. Overall, I loved watching “The Poor Little Boy With No Arms” when I was laughing as much as when I was damn near crying.” – Daniel Duma

 

“With a troupe of just six actors, all delivered highly energetic and physical performances, each having the ability to switch between comic and tragic acting, particularly Sophie Jo-Wasson and Manus Halligan. Movement was flawlessly executed – thanks to the assistance of movement director Bryan Burroughs – and the use of a bare, pristine white stage, minimal props, soundscapes and smokey, smog-like lighting –designed by Cillian McNamara – mirrored the barrenness of the play’s setting. A highly imaginative piece, the The Poor Little Boy with No Arms reflects Irish society in a variety of different ways, from the colloquialism and idioms we inherit from our families to the superstitions and mythological tales we harvest as children. However, although an engaging and absorbing story, I felt that, though vital to every literary work, too much time was spent introducing and developing characters and because of this the plot was often neglected, making the ending feel rushed and abrupt and leaving this jigsaw puzzle of a play incomplete. Despite this, the Poor Little Boy with No Arms was a play to be described as a Psycho-Moone Boy crossover and one that must be applauded. For a play devised, designed and delivered by such a talented and well disciplined young team of artists, we can be guaranteed that the future of Irish theatre is in safe hands – if you pardon the pun.” – Louis Flanagan