Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - AIMS - Adjudicator's Critique 2017

Friday 3rd March 2017 at 2:20 PM

The following is the public section of the adjudicator's report on our production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, by AIMS Adjudicator, Peter Kennedy:

On a beautifully designed set, Director Niall Heaney presented a well selected cast, in a clean and tidy production that showed a good understanding of the material and the era in which it was set. Costumes, props, etc, were all visually pleasing and appropriate, and the cast, small by Castlerea standards, were never lacking in enthusiasm. And yet, while there were few performance flaws, the pace of comedy delivery seemed a little off the boil, and it's a show that requires good pace to achieve maximum impact. There was little about this production that could not have been mended with a bit more attention to the technical needs of the show. Particularly with unknown or lesser known material, it is so important that everything can be heard and seen for the piece to be fully appreciated. On this score, there was a major issue with the balance of principal microphones, with underscored dialogue and solos against choral singing, on occasions, being almost inaudible. Lighting was a bit of a mixed bag, ranging from some absolutely beautiful atmospheres created on the cyc, to poorly lit playing areas and missed spots, which were a bit of a distraction. Particularly where there are scripted "effects", the timing of cues needs to be more accurate. Stage Manager, Noel Kelly, had his crew efficient and well organised to cope with the numerous changes of location. With a static main set, most of the movement was of props and insets, all of which were seamless handled. The design and painting of the set were both excellent, and the myriad of props were authentic and appropriate to the era.

I'd be reluctant to lay any blame for the imbalance of sound at the feet of the musicians, or the musical director, Shane Farrell, given that the sounds emanating from the pit were disciplined, accurate and by no means overwhelming. Indeed, the quality of the music throughout the show was very good. Chorus were disciplined, harmonious and well-rehearsed. Deirdre Browne's Choreography was varied and appropriate to the music, and more significantly, appropriate to the capabilities of her chorus and dancers, who generally looked at ease while performing.

A mellow voiced David Cooke, with a well sustained English accent, gave a lot of energy to the role of Lawrence Jameson. While the timing of some of his comedic reactions could have been sharper, the self-belief and superiority of the character were nicely captured, and his vocals (except those that were lost to poor sound) were delightful.

Kieran Croghan needed more charm to make the character of Freddie Benson a bit more believable. He was extremely funny as Ruprecht, and indeed in his antics in and out of the wheelchair, but it would have been nice to see him more roguishly charming in his dealings with Christine.

Julie Heaney gave an excellent acting performance as Christine, delightfully flaky and gullible to the point that audience members unfamiliar with the story were audibly surprised to discover that she was the scheming villainess of the piece. At the shows end, her Nu Yoik accent was equally convincing. The music didn't really highlight her vocal range.

It took a while for Thomas Mearon to relax into the role of Andre Thibault, which was exacerbated by poor microphone balance in his "Chimp in a Suit" number, but as his relationship with Muriel Eubanks developed, so did the confidence of his performance, resulting in some fine comedy episodes in Act Two.

Jacqueline Kenny, as Muriel, hit the mark from the get-go, with a quality performance of the philanthropist on the look-out for a worthy cause and a taste of romance. Vocally very secure, and with great comic timing, Jacqueline was believable and beautifully cast in her role.

Julie Mannion gave a whole heap of down-home, country-cousin, caricature to her portrayal of Jolene Oakes, making the most of her comedic opportunities, and selling her "Oklahoma" number with energy and enthusiasm. A very nice performance.

The chorus, few in number, made a valiant effort to make the crowd scenes look busy and energetic. Routines were tidy and well sung, and everyone seemed to know their place. It's not a show that relies heavily on the chorus, but when they were present, they made a good contribution to the overall production. This was also a very nicely costumed show, with outfits always appropriate to character and era. The gentlemen looked dapper, and the ladies elegant, when required. Good variety of costumes too for Freddy, with a notable change in elegance when Lawrence takes him in hand. Ladies, both in hairstyles and make-up, looked perfectly in place.

The foyer of The Hub had been given a French Riviera make-over, and was very well dressed to greet the audience. Front of house staff were welcoming and friendly. Castlerea have, as always, presented a high standard of musical theatre performance, which was greatly appreciated by their audience. Long may your success continue, and thank you sincerely for a most enjoyable evening.

Peter Kennedy
10th February 2017