Una Mullally

Society, life and culture on the edge

Boys and Girls

Some thoughts on the spoken word production at the Project last week.

Mon, May 19, 2014, 12:14


I missed Boys and Girls during the Fringe where its writer Dylan Coburn Gray won the Fishamble New Writing Award, but went to see it last Thursday at the Project Arts Centre.

It’s probably a bit cynical to approach a piece of theatre that could so easily fall into clichés with an arched eyebrow, but it’s also an automatic preemption because on paper, Boys and Girls is set up for all of those tropes we’re familiar with. It’s about young people living in the city, having sex, taking drugs, going out, drinking, struggling with relationships. It’s in the form of spoken word, which can easily be over-earnest. But Boys and Girls is so fully realised, so honest, funny and tender, that it makes every piece of not-really-thought-out, hackneyed, clichéd production anywhere in the world about these very same topics worth sitting through as long as something like this comes along.

The four cast members (Ronan Carey, Seán Doyle, Maeve O’Mahony and Claire O’Reilly) effortlessly regale their situations live as they unfold; a night out in the Twisted Pepper fancying a friend, a boozy evening drinking in a pub realising a score might be on the cards, an anniversary night in with a boyfriend, a one night stand about to happen. The strength of the writing means the characters are almost instantly fully formed, with succinct and complete arcs, and although youth and sex are common denominators, their stories are distinct from one another, flicking from one narrative to the next verbally split-screening with language that flirts with Shakespeare.

The result is incredibly uplifting. 50 minutes zip by between spluttering laughter from the audience, and moments of depth, sadness and explicit hilarity. Carey, Doyle, O’Mahony and O’Reilly are all stunning, bringing you with them through every cheeky, innocent, arrogant or dejected phrase. Young writing can sometimes be flimsy, but Dylan Coburn Gray has something much more valuable than experience. His work has heart.