Media Reviews for Testimonies
Colin Murphy, Village Magazine 17-23 November 2005
“The three actors have the gift of immediacy and authenticity and pull the audience in…credible and compelling…outstanding performances…crafted, nuanced, seering…raw power… the monologues (are) compelling… moving… this play should find an engaged and passionate audience for its sensitive storytelling.”
“Companies like Smashing Times… consistently produce work that is self-consciously political, work that seeks to provoke and engage debate about the way we organize society and our lives. They take a risk; the risk of being worthy, earnest and didactic; the risk of failing to resolve their chosen issues into a coherent and compelling drama; the
risk of wearing their woolly liberal hearts on their sleeves, of being, fatally, uncool. In Testimonies, Smashing Times have courted those risks and survived. The three monologues that make up Testimonies each deal with suicide. What is amazing is they manage to do so without being maudlin, angst-ridden or sentimental…
These are the people left behind, not gifted with some knowledge or insight from beyond the grave as to what slowly and then finally drove their loved ones to kill themselves. The struggling to understand and labouring with guilt is the most moving aspect of the piece”.
Gerry Colgan, The Irish Times, 21st November 2005
“Smashing Times Theatre Company has a deserved reputation for exploring social issues with sensitivity and in depth. This new work deals with the difficult aspect of suicide in three monologues based on interviews with people who lost loved ones to self- destruction… let me say first that the plays, directed by Ena May, are true theatre, reaching out and embracing their listeners. On that bedrock, the ensuing conversations were structured and meaningful…the exchanges were extraordinary. Individual members of the audience spoke with courage about their experiences and found sensitive and experienced listeners on the stage…this work points the way rather than draws maps. Smashing Times must continue with it.”
Jerome Reilly, Sunday Independent, 13th November 2005
“A new play about suicide…has turned into an unexpected theatrical hit among young people… the biggest response to the play has been amongst young people… ‘ when we brought the play to schools we have been surprised by the awareness of the problem and the intelligence of the questions in the post-play discussions. It has really struck a chord’
Media Reviews for Shattering Glass
Derek West, Irish Theatre Magazine, 14th January 2011
“In Daniel, by Mary Moynihan, the mother who loses her son in an explosion relives in a first-person present-tense monologue the awfulness of one Saturday afternoon at the end of summer in a country town. Aoife Heery’s portrayal of Heather is subtle, sensitive and unremitting in its graphic catalogue of horror – “I realise my feet are sticky” – a dawning realisation of blood that leads to the body of her son.
In Crossings, in another tensely-acted monologue, Adam Traynor unpacks the past of Tom, a man whose acts of terror embroiled members of his community and his family. He is in enforced exile, a wanted man facing an impassive border; crossing it entails risk, draws out residual guilts and releases visceral hatreds. While writer Paul Kennedy attempts to blur that border with a fall of snow and to assuage the agony through the emergence of love, the dominant sense is of almost unbroken darkness.
In the centre-piece, The Glass Wall, (devised by Gillian Hackett and cast) a pair of lovers (Traynor and Heery) – one from each side of the religious divide – are pursued by the unrelenting demands of the past. The stage is populated with ghosts that clutch at each of them, pulling them backwards towards sectarian hatred and violence. There is a crude vigour about the emotions portrayed and the rhetoric comes with the sledge-hammer beat of unwavering rhetoric: “THIS-IS-NOT-OV-ER” (Paul Nolan, the third cast-member, in a concentrated portrait of bigotry and intimidation).
Mary Moynihan’s direction is both ascetic and intense: the staging is bleak, the lighting spartan; continuity between the pieces is provided by electrifying, throbbing music; the acting is disciplined and utterly concentrated. The horrors of the past have been partially humanised, but will not lie down.”