By Tomás Heneghan
“Close to perfect.” After a shaky opening night, UL Drama Society’s second semester show maneuvered its way back to a close to perfect performance for its second and final night.
Like the first pancake, night one of “UL Drama One Act Variety Show” came across as a tester, a toe in the lake to test the waters of audience response.
Night one was plagued for some in the audience by a drunken hoard in the front row, howling and shouting to actors on stage throughout the 3 hour performance.
Nothing screams “respect” quite like leaving empty Bulmers cans scattered around the floor of a theatre after disrupting a show for a number of hours.
However the show itself – although patchy in parts – was worth the €5 entry fee. The running order was rejigged for night two of the variety show, with a tea break and a number of songs cut.
Night one opened on Rent’s “Seasons of Love” with several cast members donning black and belting out the musical classic.
The show then moved to John B. Keane’s “Sive” with the main actors giving the audience an entertaining and, in parts, somewhat improvised performance. Ciara Jaffrey (Mena), Tadgh Flynn (Mike) and Muireann Casey (Sive) provided the key components of Keane’s play, under the direction of Rachel Bawler.
Presumably lacking in males for the role, society president and former ULSU Welfare Officer candidate, Vanessa O’Brien took on the task of Seán Dota. Meanwhile Meghan Kissane (Nana) and Cathal Moore (Liam Scuab) gave life to other characters.
“Firestarter”: an original piece directed by Andrew Moore provided a short and intense burst of energy between set changes. A table, two chairs, a file and two actors kept audience attention on the stage as silent and sullen turned to a staged assault in the space of a second or two.
From seated and uncooperative, to being held down by a chair Jason Hannan made the perfect mix of victim and perpetrator. Cathal Sweeney then ensured the authoritative air of US government agencies was felt throughout the theatre as he played both good and bad cop with Hannan’s character.
“Pitch Perfect”, the show they had all come to see, then burst onto stage after a tea break, provided by UL’s Tea Appreciation Society. It was noticeably patchy in parts on night one but provided the entertainment expected of the 2012 acapella movie. Directed by Thomas Coneran, the short adaptation gave the audience what they expected.
Aryn King took on Anna Kendrick’s Becca and gave the part the justice it deserves, with a soulful rendition of the now famous “Cups.” Muireann Casey was back on stage for her role as nervous vomiter Aubrey. Vanessa O’Brien (Chloe) and Jason Hannan (Jesse) also gave their parts a fresh take, while Una Roddy appeared to channel the spirit of Fat Amy herself.
Harold Pinter’s “The Dumb Waiter” then followed a second break, with Michael Boyle playing Ben and David McEnroe taking on the role of Gus. For those who had not seen, or heard of the play before the opening night, they could easily have found themselves searching for the purpose of the piece.
It was certainly intriguing, however it ended in a somewhat anti-climatic fashion after a lengthy build-up to something more, which was unfortunately never to be. Entertaining, yet just lacking urgency and obvious purpose.
Les Miserables’s “One More Day” provided the final part in the almost three-hour long show, for which the many of the cast took to the stage one last time.
The society later gave awards to some performers for their performances on both nights. Ciara Jaffrey won Best Actress for her role as Mena in Sive, while Meghan Kissane won Best Supporting Actress for her part as Nana in the same play. Best Director was given to Rachel Bawler for her direction of Sive.
Jason Hannan won Best Supporting Actor for his part as Jesse in Thomas Coneran’s adaptation of “Pitch Perfect”, while society president Vanessa O’Brien won the Spirit of Drama for her overall contribution to the society over the past four years.