DTF review | The buzz of ‘Bees!’ doesn’t obstruct its message

The music might be a bit too hip for the hive of children, but their parents might appreciate it

Venue: The Ark

Date Reviewed: September 28th, 2015

Website: dublintheatrefestival.com

Phone: 1

Wed, Sep 30, 2015, 13:36

   

Bees!

The Ark

***

 

Mel is a honeybee without a hive. Luke is a Bumblebee with bombast aplenty. Marsha is a solitary bee with an attitude problem, but she will overcome it to help Mel find her way home.

First there are dangers that must be negotiated: rain, herbicides, assassin-insects and, worst of all, the murderous impulses of two-leggers (boys). The trio are starving as well, and there is hardly a flower to be found. The world sure is an unfriendly place when you’re a bee.

Writer Mark Doherty revels in the opportunity to pollinate Bees! with puns. If the dangers that the bees face are real, the verbal and visual humour ensures that it’s a deadly buzz. Sarah Jane Shiels’s hexagonal honeycomb set facilitates surprise revelations, while Emma O’Kane’s choreography creates a distinct pattern of movement for the hovering hairy creatures.

Sarah Bacon’s costume design, meanwhile, avoids the obvious. Instead, a palette of lemon and black enlivens the smallest details, from the cuff of a sleeve to the trim of an ankle-warmer.

Bees! is a musical, and Jack Cawley’s compositions draw on popular music from the 1950s onwards, offering a pastiche of soul, disco, reggae, and ubiquitous pop ballads. It is all just a bit too hip for the hive of children, although their parents might appreciate it. Cawley performs the score live in the full regalia of a beekeeper, creating a fourth character who performs a central role in the final revelation of the three bees’ fate.

WillFredd Theatre’s ambitious musical for children has an instructional impetus as well as a theatrical one. Peppered with Latin assignations and Anthophila trivia, it imparts a serious environmental message about the urgent dangers of extinction facing bees.

At one point, Cawley, the musical beekeeper, even delivers a short lecture on the reciprocity of the ecosystem. But the educational imperative is never quite resolved with the dramatic action.

However, the final musical number abandons rhetoric and instead gives the audience a practical task. The actors don’t just implore us to “plant the seeds and save the bees”, they give us actual bulbs to plant, ensuring that their important lessons are taken beyond the four walls of the theatre.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.