What Did I Miss?: An authentic reflection of the complexity of its young audience’s lives

Dublin Theatre Festival: Shaun Dunne’s play explores the ritual significance of school graduation

What Did I Miss?: Naomi Moonveld-Nkosi and Sarah Morris. Photograph: Ros Kavanagh

What Did I Miss?: Naomi Moonveld-Nkosi and Sarah Morris. Photograph: Ros Kavanagh

 

WHAT DID I MISS?

The Ark, Dublin
★★★★☆
If the pandemic has taught us anything about ourselves, it is the importance of ritual in our lives, as deaths went unmourned and birthdays uncelebrated, and we were denied closure as we passed from one stage of life to another.

In his considered play for young audiences aged 10 and up, Shaun Dunne explores the significance of the ritual of school graduation; the way a formal ceremony provides an emotional structure to young people “on their way out the door”, as they transition from primary to secondary school.

Kyla (a serious and sassy Naomi Moonveld-Nkosi) is determined to mark the event, despite the cancellation of her graduation because of Covid-19. She has organised a ceremony for her friends in line with social-distancing guidelines. She has even written a speech.

The fraught mother-daughter relationship is both realistic and effectively provocative. With choreographers Junk Ensemble, Shaun Dunne finds a physical language in which the play’s issues can be subtly underscored too

When her mother (the boldly physical Sarah Morris) unexpectedly arrives after a long and unexplained absence, Kyla is forced to re-evaluate the emotional significance of her attachment to the event. As her mother opens up about her own troubled history, together they find a way to turn the ritual into one of healing for themselves.

The fraught mother-daughter relationship that Dunne portrays is both realistic and effectively provocative. With choreographers Junk Ensemble, Dunne finds a physical language in which the play’s issues can be subtly underscored too. As director, meanwhile, Dunne uses the Ark’s space inventively, while Sarah Bacon’s set and Jack Cawley’s sound design help to heighten the fun. (And there is a lot of fun in the play.)

Streamed earlier this year, after its original premiere was postponed, last October, this live iteration of What Did I Miss? has an unmatchable zest as it presents young audiences with an authentic reflection of the complexity of their lives.

Runs at the Ark until Sunday, October 10th, as part of Dublin Theatre Festival

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