Junior Play review

Last night the ‘Junior Sandwich‘ which was this year’s Junior Play production came to a conclusion with two performances in the Big Schoolroom. Particular thanks are due to Mr Swift for conceiving this unusual evening of three short (and very different) pieces flowing into each other. They were very effectively staged in the round on the floor of the BSR, with the audiences on all four sides.

The evening began with the two-hander Now Hear This by Michael Frayn (whose Matchbox Theatre productions ran in late 2021 in the same space under pandemic restrictions, from Seniors). Finn Vanmalder appeared as Person 2, lay down on a mattress, and started trying to solve a Rubic’s Cube, a visible manifestation of his ignoring of Person 1, who came in to complain about how little he listened to her. Unfortunately Harry Casey, the original cast member, was ill, so stepping into the role of Person 2 was another Second Former, Alice Hutchon, and great credit goes to her for an excellent performance with one hour’s notice (she read her lines), with thanks to director Mr Jameson.

The lights went down, and the voice of Marianna O’Shaughnessy came over the PA to describe the odd creatures called ‘Shapeshifters’ in Frayn’s Blackout Number, masked figures dressed in black who scurried around in dim red light, setting up the props and furniture for the main play. Those First Formers were Richard Cosby, Max Heidenfeld, Louie Morphew and Tony Fang, and their movement caused much amusement for the audience.

So finally we saw J.M. Synge’s 1903 one-act In The Shadow of the Glen, updated to a remote part of Wicklow in 1981. Rebecca Flanagan welcomed stranger tramp Alice McCarthy into her house while the body of her ‘dead’ husband Ferdia Murray lay on the pool table in the corner. Of course, he was not dead at all (Ferdia deserves a special award for his sheer stillness for so long). The fourth member of the cast was Jack Francis McKeown, a young man caught by the man of the house at the end for a stiff Jameson or two. Congratulations to all four actors on the compelling way they delivered Synge’s distinctive cadences.