A Break from the staff room and the schoolyard

In the aftermath of a tragedy a school turns to music to find rhyme and reason

 

Break

Project Arts Centre

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Rocked by a student suicide and ensuing unrest, an inner-city school reaches out to a hip hop artist for help. “That’s a bit Dangerous Minds, isn’t it?” says one staff-room cynic, and, indeed, Amy Conroy’s new play nods at classroom staples: dysfunctional, bickering and trapped, these six teachers could be serving detention in The Breakfast Club II. But Conroy’s first ensemble piece for HotForTheatre itself struggles to find an authentic voice, most lyrical in monologue, banal in dialogue and erupting, almost in frustration, into orgiastic fight scenes or dreamlike musical interludes.

There are absorbing ideas here about deadening institutions that might reimagine themselves in a crisis, where Elayne Harrington gives a standout performance, embodying the transformative potential of creative flow. But the show becomes overcomplicated (and overlong) with unnecessary characters, backstories, smart but fussy design elements and uncertainly shifting modes. Director and dramaturg Veronica Coburn never reins in the material or the performance, pulled uneasily between the structure of the staffroom and the energy of the schoolyard.

Until Sep 21. Draíocht, Blanchardstown Sep 27-28