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  • Chris O'Rourke

All Washed Up

All Washed Up.Photo Mark Griffin


All Washed Up is not there yet

Part of the learning curve for any new theatre company is understanding when a work is ready and when it’s still in development. On the evidence of 'All Washed Up,' Rosebuds Theatre Company have yet to learn this. It could be argued that as this is their debut production a certain amount of slack should be accorded them. Yet it could equally be argued that once you ask people to give up their time and money to come see your show, that show should be ready. Particularly as many first time productions by new companies are often thrilling, exciting and outstanding. Not so ‘All Washed Up.'

‘All Washed Up’s’ non-story concerns three people sharing a flat. Fionn, who owns the flat, has Alice and Kate as roommates. All three live as a non-sexual, platonic threesome. All three share the same bed, some even share the same toothbrush. Why? We have no real idea. There's unexplored hints of religion, asexuality and former abusive relationships, and a vague metaphor of them being washed up here, of this being a context in the absence of a context. They drink, eat, play games, badly discuss little of interest and then leave. Themes of loneliness and relationships seem to be hit upon more by accident than design, floundering momentarily before drowning beneath the shallow surface.

Neither delivering as a naturalist, realist or absurdist drama, ‘All Washed Up’ seems to be enveloped by fear and uncertainty, with its promotional photos exuding far more energy and excitement than the actual show itself. Written by performers Jamie Sykes, Karen Killeen and Romana Testasecca, the whole has the feel of a rudderless ship which director Lorna Costello should have come to better grips with. At the very least Costello should have realised that Sykes’ original idea isn’t ready for production yet. Threesomes and their implications have proven to be exceptional breeding grounds for some fascinating works, such as Sickle Moons problematic yet powerful ‘TRYST’ at this year’s Tiger Dublin Fringe, or Spanish film maker, Salvador García-Ruiz’s exceptional 2009 movie, ‘3some.’ In contrast, ‘All Washed Up’s’ structureless script buckles under the burden of the relentlessly used device of asking questions to set up dialogue, with the whole lacking a cohesive firmness. This spills over with ‘All Washed Up’ having neither the fun, charm, sexual heat or erotic charge its conversations of being with another woman or first time sexual experiences seem to strain for. Instead, it all feels terrified, and this fear is palpable in performances also.

Jamie Sykes looks uneasy as Fionn, sporadically making eye contact with his cast members, playing most of his lines to the audience. Something director Lorna Costello should have addressed. Romana Testasecca has considerable ability and presence, but she too frequently plays to the audience as if she’s playing to camera rather than to her fellow cast members onstage. Only Karen Killeen as Kate seems to grasp what's needed. Indeed, Killeen keeps the whole performatively interesting, essentially carrying the show on her back for most of the performance She gives endlessly, beseeching her fellow cast members to interact and react with her. But they don't react anyway near enough. Something else Costello, as director, should have addressed.

Better tough love than to be damned with false praise they say. Given the opportunities available for new companies to workshop or receive feedback on new projects, there can be no reason why work that is not yet ready is put out there before a paying audience. It might seem cruel now, but ultimately it is an act of kindness letting young companies know what needs to be worked on. Let’s hope Rosebuds Theatre Company can travel the learning curve. It’s hard to take perhaps. But the ability to do so is what determines the growth of any company. Rosebuds have talent. Now let's see what they can do with it.

‘All Washed Up’ by Rosebuds Theatre Company runs at The New Theatre until November 5th

For more information, visit The New Theatre

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