The Get-Out

Wed 14th – Sat 17th November 2012

reviews

JY Hoh

at 02:26 on 15th Nov 2012

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I love doing theatre – it’s always so fun in a thoroughly exhausting way. Writer-actress Mary Flanigan clearly loves theatre, too, and has written an entertaining and comic script that is an ardent but weary love letter to the dramatic arts. Although the story does suffer from a lack of momentum, it is vividly brought to life by an outstanding cast and a talented director, making ‘The Get-Out’ a must-watch for anyone who has ever been involved in a production, or for anyone else in the mood for two hours of well-acted, light-hearted fun.

If the Bubble Rocks Belfast Youth Theatre Group were a real theatre company, they would be extremely successful, because every single one of them – even the stage manager and the general manager – can act really, really well. Highly-strung Sarah Boyle (Ella Waldman) is the only real adult in the room, and Waldman plays her firecracker of a character with a fierce energy that wins her sympathy even during her most dislikeable moments. Flanigan does brilliantly as bohemian artistic director Aine Ni Bhraonain, flailing across the stage like a scatterbrained mouse; I was constantly reminded of Tina Fey from 30 Rock (except Irish). Sam McGowan (Lloyd Houston) is a welcome pillar of stability to the mayhem, and Houston’s calming presence is a nice counterpoint to Waldman’s cattiness and Flanigan’s clumsiness. The teenage characters are all very credibly acted, and each of them demonstrate just enough rawness and nascent maturity to be wholly convincing as a gaggle of seventeen-to-eighteen year olds. Standout performances include Katie (Lucy Delaney) and George (Alexander Stutt); Delaney somehow manages to radiate her character’s timidity and sweetness to fill the entire room, and Stutt’s rangy thespian steals the show with a hilarious monologue about the night he lost his virginity. Oblivious Andrew Lowry (Ed Barr-Sim) also provides quite a few laughs as the suit with a pathetic sense of humour. In terms of acting, The Get-Out does superlatively well.

Other members of the team behind The Get-Out are also deserving of praise. Director Josie Mitchell does a great job in ensuring that the production has a slick, professional feel – each character entry and exit is executed flawlessly, and I was particularly impressed by the use of lighting to create a slidehow of tableaus depicting a cast party that is getting steadily and deliciously more debauched. The set – designed by Alejandra Alburne – is an inspired piece of art that is part-chaos part-office, and Hugh O’Shea should also receive a special mention for impressive work as accent coach – if I didn’t know otherwise, I would’ve thought that Mitchell had put together an all-Irish cast.

The one aspect of The Get-Out that I felt was slightly less than optimal was the writing. Flanigan's script definitely has its merits – she manages to keeps dialogue snappy and flaunts an impressive array of hilarious one-liners. There are a few notes that are off-key - Sam the stage manager interrupts a fantastic sequence parodying Romeo and Juliet with an outburst that seems out of character. More crucially, however, the dramatic arc never fully takes flight, and sometimes I felt like I was watching a series of amusing and interesting scenes play out rather appreciating a good plot fully develop. The story is told flash-back style with the second act written about the events that led up to the first, but when revelations emerge in the latter half of the play, they take the form of a few drunken kisses, come-ons and some bitchy conniving – nothing of very much dramatic weight seems to have happened by the time the lights finally go down. Serious themes are introduced, with some better treated than others – the opposition between creative licentiousness and real-world concerns is well-handled, but I would have liked a more in-depth look at why some of the characters seemed desperate to get out of Belfast. Nevertheless, this is a play that boasts performances of such high quality that it becomes easy to overlook its narrative shortcomings. You won't necessarily be satisfied, but you will definitely be entertained.

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Annie Perrott

at 10:40 on 15th Nov 2012

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By the interval, the audience of Mary Flanigan’s piece of new writing ‘The Get-Out’ were left wondering where the play could possibly be heading. The first half introduced Flanigan’s writing to be insightful, engaging and witty, however it wasn’t until the second act that its true brilliance became apparent.

‘The Get-Out’ provides a fundamentally realistic portrayal of a messy night out and its drunken consequences, while highlighting an important message about the challenging relationship between theatre and its numerous funding bodies. Flanigan managed to lighten her sometimes over-politicised message by counteracting it with a strong vein of physical comedy. Her engagement with the Irish unrest was subtle yet effective and she did not allow the location of her play to overshadow its finer details.

'The Get-Out' deals with a Belfast theatre company ‘Bubble Rocks’ and begins with the repercussions of a messy after-show party. The company have recently finished a youth theatre performance of Brecht and the cast and crew decide to celebrate in style. The next morning, Aine Ni Bhraonain (Mary Flanigan) and Sarah Boyle (Ella Waldman) wake up with awful hangovers and close to no recollection of the night before, except a lipstick-written diary entry for a 10.30 meeting with the company’s financial backer. The events of the day unfold until the ending of the first half when the company’s future is in question. The second half then serves a prequel, providing an explanation and enlightenment of the events of the previous night.

Alejandra Albuerne provided a wonderful set design, creating a space that showed incredible attention to detail and a realistic representation of a start-up theatre company’s office space. The centrality that the space held, linking together the two halves, was innovative and effective, with the only flaw being the misplacing of one of the mannequins at the end of the production.

The cast worked well as an ensemble and successfully achieved the strong sense of both unity and exclusion the often characterises drunken evenings. The script was at its best by ensuring that no one actor was prominent, and this allowed all cast members to perform wonderfully and convincingly. Hugh O’Shea, the accent coach obviously did a marvellous job as the Northern Irish accents of the cast were flawless and at no point broke the state of suspended disbelief of the audience.

This piece of student writing presents all that is good about the Oxford theatre scene, providing a basis for young writing and acting talent to appear at its very best.

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