Photo credit: Jass Foley
Don’t Risk it
Risk is risk, consequence is consequence, and family is family. Replete with such hollow tropes, and riddled with gangster clichés like the 'family business' and the 'family and business,' 'Risk' is a good idea buried under a tonne of lacklustre writing. The idea of two Kray like sisters rising to the head of a criminal empire in 1960’s London could have had something interesting to say. But in an under thought, overwrought and over written script, with its two central characters borrowing so heavily from Ronnie and Reggie as to be their identical twins, ‘Risk’ becomes a tiresome fifty minutes of making a long story longer.
Switching between short scenes and long monologues, ‘Risk’ begins in an undisclosed time and place that suggests sixties London. There’s a meeting, supposedly laced with menace, where gangsters with non-threatening names like Daddy and The Bold Boys across the river, are all gathered with the Posh Boys and Daddy's daughters, Frances and Agnes. The meeting, delivered in monologue by Agnes, goes on forever and goes nowhere of any real interest. After an interminable amount of looping back over itself, repeating many of the same points, with an endless amount of 'he looks at her and she looks at him,’ it finally emerges that Agnes, the kooky one of Daddy’s daughters, is falling for a Posh Boy. Something Frances, her ruthless sister, has some concerns over. Still, they get married, Daddy dies and Frances improbably becomes Queen of London’s underworld. But there’s a snake in their midst, someone who is betraying the family, someone who will have to deal with the consequences.
Were this writer, director Diane Crotty’s first script, much could be forgiven by way of inexperience. But Crotty already has a number of scripts under her belt, as well as having the assistance of Cian Ó Ceallacháin as dramaturg on 'Risk'. Though what exactly Ó Ceallacháin's contribution is to ‘Risk’ is impossible to fathom, seeming to make no meaningful impact. A flittering, fluttering, twittering script, its wheels are turning but it’s going nowhere of any real interest, taking forever to get anywhere, with everything starting to sound alike after a while. Even the slaughter scene lacks any real intensity. None of which is helped by an apology of a set, and by what one hopes is a malfunctioning lighting design by Colm Horan. The only redeeming quality about this production is found in two first class performances by Lisa Tyrell as the ruthless Frances, and Susan Barrett as the kooky Agnes, whose valiant efforts to raise ‘Risk’s’ over wrought monologues to something akin to engaging borders on the miraculous, for which they should be richly rewarded in theatre heaven. But even they can only heal the sick, they cannot raise the dead.
There are many productions by young, first time companies making their Fringe debut in this year’s festival, some with students still in college. All of them are vying for an audience, all trying their best in order to get your support. With ‘Risk,’ it looks like the work simply wasn’t done, with its valiant actors fighting against poor writing, poor staging and even poorer technical. One hopes Crotty will take this good idea and reimagine it, workshop it, pay attention to the advice of her writing mentor and get herself a first rate director. There’s many coming through. For there are many young shows well worth you taking the risk on in the Tiger Dublin Fringe, which will repay you handsomely. ‘Risk’ just isn’t one of them.
'Risk' runs at The New Theatre as part of Tiger Dublin Fringe until September 24th
For more information, visit The New Theatre or Tiger Dublin Fringe