This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub.
Arsehammers & Bonfire Night are two short comedy plays written by Claire Dowie under the direction of John Sheehy. The first of these two plays, and the shorter of the two, is told from a child’s perspective and deals with a boy’s understanding of his grandfather’s progressive dementia. In what is a touching and sentimental story there several giggles, mostly down to childhood misunderstandings of an adult world, but the genre of comedy might be misleading.
The second of this duo, Bonfire Night, is certainly the outright champion in terms of story and performance. A quirky tale of a woman hard-done-by and at odds with society, Bonfire Night teeters on the edge of dark comedy before going for it hell for leather. The story gradually builds around a string of events that leads the main character to seek revenge for the wrongs and perceived wrongs in her life. This well told story also highlights the impact of stereotypical gender roles in society and how psychological development can be affected as an outcome.
Both roles are played by Cora Fenton and the acting is decent throughout but more so in Bonfire Nightwhere her skills are demonstrated more ably as a performer. An adult actor playing the role of a child is always a risk and in Arsehammers, while the dialogue is humorous and touching, the character isn’t wholly believable and doesn’t quite work. Fenton’s portrayal of a frazzled and somewhat bewildered woman inBonfire Night is far more real and given the bizarre elements to the story this is quite the feat. Arguably, both pieces would be better performed as standalone shows, albeit with further development, particularly for Arsehammers.
These two short pieces, of ten minutes and thirty minutes respectively, are definitely an interesting way to pass a lunch hour, with the longer of the two being the more enjoyable by far. Dowie’s writing demonstrates that entertainment doesn’t have to rely on props or gimmicks as she manages to portray the heart as well as the humour in life’s unpredictable events.
Writer: Claire Dowie
Director: John Sheehy
Runs until 28 November at Bewley’s Cafe Theatre @ Powerscourt Theatre