Between three characters, a stuffed dog, and a wall decorated with framed, broken records, the production of ‘Hollow and Dead-Eyed Beasts’ is truly marvellous.
Centring around three former child stars living together in a decrepit old home, the play explores the perils of fame. Or rather, the perils of having once had fame, and losing it. Coupled with the news that they must leave their home due to running out of funds, and the trio can barely function as ordinary people.
Simon and Cameron (played by James O’Neill and Kevin Cleary respectfully) have fabulous chemistry. Whether they are simply squabbling with each other whilst standing in bathrobes or pondering on ways to reclaim the limelight they once held, there is no way one can overlook how well their energies bounce off each other.
Add in Mel’s (Niamh McGowan), quirky and eccentric presence, and the show is 50 minutes of irresistible fun. Her infatuation with their former mentor leads to some hilarious pieces of comedic performance – which you really owe it to yourself to see!
Pea Dinneen’s direction is swift and clean, with exquisite writing that packs many nostalgic punches and references to Irish pop cultural gems. References to Louis Walsh and Nadine Coyle’s #PassportGate earn a much deserved hearty laugh.
There is also a rather random cameo from the men who made the Macarena dance famous, and their power-hungry publicist (played by the same trio), though these scenes are just good fun and add in a dash of 90s charm. Plus, those dance moves performed in perfect synchronisation are truly captivating!
All in all, ‘Hollow and Dead-Eyed Beasts’ is a hilariously clever play, though when looked at on a deeper level, offers fascinating commentary on the fragility of the celebrity ego – and how quickly the public are to forget their pop icons.
‘Hollow and Dead-Eyed Beasts’ is playing in the Smock Alley Theatre until November 16.
Review by Kevin Worrall