Dinner’s at Seven
As the saying goes, where there’s a will there's a relative. Three in fact in Jill McKeagney’s delightful serving of site specific dinner theatre, “Fortune.” Developed as part of Scene and Heard and presented by Tengu Theatre and McKeagney in partnership with Discotekken, “Fortune” follows the comic gripes of Amy, Eva, and Michael who meet one evening in an Asian restaurant to finalise the division of their parents estate. Three siblings with heightened sensitivities, old grievances rise to the surface over main course and dessert as each lays claim to various parental possessions. Oozing with well played laughs, a ready ease and understated charm, “Fortune” shows all the hallmarks of a promising young enterprise and delivers a tasty little theatrical treat.
Performed at Yamamori Tengu in Great Strand Street (parallel to Ormond Quay Lower), a well fed audience with access to alcohol eavesdrop on a three way conversation. One in which control freak Amy, her penny pinching brother Michael, and their irresponsible little sister Eva find themselves pitted against one another in a fight for coats, dominance, and a Steinway piano. Everything is soon up for grabs as they eat, drink, and become even more cranky and judgmental.
If action proves to be a little thin on the ground, “Fortune” compensates with some wry, dry humorous dialogue, played slow and easy, filled with funny observational ordinariness. Yet it's real strength lies in its three performances which visibly grow in confidence. Alison Kinlan’s subdued Eva showing just a touch of the world weary serves as the perfect foil to both Hannah Osborne’s wine swilling Amy and Robert Downes’ scene-stealingly pretentious Micheal. Larissa Santiago as their long suffering waitress rounds out this promising young troupe.
As with any plucky new venture, there's room for a little improvement. Narratively and dramatically, “Fortune” doesn’t have a whole lot happening and stops rather than ends. Indeed “Fortune’s” writing could do with a little more rigour and its story with a little more bite. Even if it wants to avoid a satisfying and tidy resolution, textually its timeline, back stories and focus can be problematic, and overuse of direct address breaks rhythm and saps energy. Indeed, edit the relentless and unnecessary repetition of characters calling each other by their names and you’d likely reduce the script significantly and give it some more oomph. Theatrically, pace can be off in places and it suffers some serious projection issues at times. The placement of microphones on the cast's dining table proves to be an unsuccessful distraction as they don’t assist, with vocal levels ranging from the inaudible to just right. This despite each performer proving themselves capable of handling the room’s vocal demands without the need of a microphone. In fairness, several of these issues might well be the result of opening night jitters and could resolve themselves as the run deepens. Given that the show didn’t have the advantage of a preview period, there’s a very good chance they will.
As a fledgeling project, “Fortune” makes some minor errors, and shows a disarming youthful self consciousness at times, as it ventures bravely into some clever, comic, and uncharted waters. But Tengu Theatre, Jill McKeagney, and Discotekken, along with their hard working cast, have every reason to be confident. Like a good dining experience, “Fortune” is not afraid to take its time, rewarding you with some delicious and memorable flavours. For “Fortune” is an experience to be savoured slowly. One that includes a top notch Yamamori Bento Box and house cocktail in the price of admission, which should also be savoured slowly. There's even rumours of admission to a night club.
“Fortune” by Jill McKeagney, presented by Tengu Theatre and Jill McKeagney in partnership with Discotekken, runs at Yamamori Tengu, Great Strand Street until January 25th.
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