Reboot Live: Episode Three
But You Stopped Their Hearts/Tired and Emotional/The Representative
If no one questions Reboot Live's value in putting live theatre back before a live audience, some have questioned its wisdom. And not because of Covid. Marrying firm favourites with fresh faces might make for a terrific learning experience under ordinary circumstances, but when the stakes are so high in securing a live, and a streaming audience it raises questions. Reboot Live 2020 might argue that they're keeping it real by supporting artists right across the spectrum, including new, relatively inexperienced writers. But the inclusion of work that requires a little more development can seem a curious choice.
Amy Kidd in But You Stopped Their Hearts. Image by Cate Reid.
A case in point is Amy Kidd's admirably ambitious But You Stopped Their Hearts. One of the hardest working young people in theatre with theatremaker.ie, Kidd's tale of a young woman returning to Dublin to face the father she hasn't seen in fourteen years has enough to warrant inclusion in any number of workshops. Which, alas, it would benefit immensely from. Opening as a monologue delivered by Kidd, it quickly drifts into a kind of dodgy TedTalk on trances and twelve year olds before doing a lot of unnecessary work to set things up while not really going anywhere. Exposition heavy, Kidd's script trades in information which could have been delivered far more effectively. Like its character, it soon seems to be doing everything it can to avoid confronting the very feelings it wants to confront.
Amy Kidd and Liam Carney in But You Stopped Their Hearts. Image by Cate Reid.
The arrival of a carefully understated Liam Carney establishes where the play really should have begun, making all that went before fill like filler. Yet even here feelings are often recounted like facts reported after the event from the safe distance of knowing and hindsight. Under Ronan Leahy's impressive direction, the hidden heart at the core of Kidd's script flashes across the stage at times as a lived experience, with Leahy's clever use of the wings proving to be a masterstroke. Yet, ultimately, But You Stopped Their Hearts is a story for another day. A day when Kidd has had time to work through the issues tripping up her fascinating tale. Which she is more than capable of doing. Supported by Fishamble.
Byron Hayes and Monika Pacholec in Tired and Emotional. Image by Cate Reid.
If a return to live performance had you hoping to say farewell to those endlessly annoying Skype performances, think again. Tired and Emotional, written and directed by David Butler, sees a late night Skype call between Ed, away on a Team Building exercise in Scotland, and the pregnant Jan being played out onstage. Why, theatrically, put a Skype call onstage? God knows. It's visually weak and uninteresting. Butler's script, however, is often smartly written and richly observed, bouncing an energised Ed off of a jealous Jan as they play around with the truth. Indeed, where Tired and Emotional really succeeds is in the dynamics between Byron Hayes and Monika Pacholec who turn in two engaging performances as the liars dragging secrets out into the open. If it all feels like an excerpt from a larger work, it's a testament to Hayes and Pacholec that you want to know what happens next. Though you do wonder why Butler didn't wrap it up rather than jumping out midstream. Leaving something of a taste for it all feeling like a scene being tested for a work yet to be completed.
Sarah Kinlen and Neil Watkins in The Representative. Image by Cate Reid.
Rounding out Reboot Live 2020: Episode Three, a weird and wacky The Representative, written and directed by Sean Millar, delivers the most theatrically satisfying production of the night. A sort of Beckettian absurdist tale of bullies, big monkeys and birthdays, The Representative's real treasure is its two crowning performances by Sarah Kinlen and Neil Watkins. Juxtaposed as visual opposites in black tuxedos, minus the bow, Kinlen restlessly paces back and forth as the laconic Watkins remains seated and still, both expounding their nonsensical observations. Unafraid to venture down non-realist boreens, The Representative delivers quite the humorous little treat. As well a delightful musical interlude all for your listening pleasure.
Reboot Live 2020 runs at The International Bar on various dates till September 13.
Episode Three runs September 3 and 5, live streaming on September 3.
For more information, visit Reboot Live 2020.