This is the second time theatre company Whiskey Tango Foxtrot has brought Diane Crotty’s Absolute Beginners to the stage. It tells the story of two people who meet in the waiting room of a therapist’s office, and the reasons for their being there are seemingly as opposite as their backgrounds. She is there for anger management, while he is there for his anxiety and the panic attacks he’s been having.
With a cute intro causing a few giggles, the play starts off well to Bowie’s song of the same name. In a series of encounters in this waiting room, Carrie, a stage manager in an unnamed theatre (which you would only really pick up on if you have experience in theatre yourself), and Ewan, who’s job I can only describe as “business-man”, develop something of a spark between them, but they constantly (and predictably) allow themselves to be held back by their mental states. The performances from Andrea Bolger and Sam Monaghan, playing both Carrie and Ewan, is lacklustre to say the least. Lisa Tyrell and Anne Doyle, playing doctors Campbell and Drury respectively, were rather entertaining, however it was unfortunate that their characters were two dimensional and couldn’t be fully developed.
The lighting and sound design were not ambitious and seemed to lack imagination, the latter consisting predominantly of your mates’ party playlist. The set was the bare minimum, failing to use the charming stage available in the New Theatre. Though this is not Cian Ó Ceallacháin’s first venture into directing, it would not be surprising if it was. He made use of the space well but it became repetitive and stagnant and uninteresting to watch.
Overall, I felt the play had a nice idea, approaching a topic, which in my opinion has been done to death, with a fresh perspective. Its downfall was a lack of direction in the script, which seemed to constantly beat around the bush without any tact. That, and a lack of passion.
by Johnny Walsh