By Danielle Farrow
Actors is an original play – from Dublin student group Underscore Theatre – which looks at a group of amateur actors in the hour before the curtain goes up on their production of Hamlet.
The director is an ego-maniacal creep perving on his lead actress(es), there is a member of the cast everyone else ignores – something of a narrator for the audience – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have personal issues heading into violence, Ophelia may be having a real-life mental breakdown (according to the promotional material – not really in evidence in the performance), Gertrude is zoned out, Hamlet is missing, Laertes is boring everyone with his ‘professional’ opportunities, Polonius is hated by all but knows everyone’s lines, there’s an actor locked in the toilets being sick, and Claudius, a veteran in the company from the director’s performance as Hamlet ten years before, is desperately trying to hold everything together.
In this mix of just about everything people imagine about bickering actors and their neuroses, there is plenty of humour and the occasional decent observation. Characters don’t really move beyond stereotypes, a few ‘revelations’ are rather disconnected in their playing and so feel a bit tagged on, and performances are not fully rooted throughout. However, everyone does a decent job, with the director character doing a good job balancing on the verge of caricature without quite tipping over, and the group works well together as an ensemble.
The much-complained about dressing room is created by the use of a table under a long mirror surrounded with large Christmas lights and a few chairs, and costume adds to humour in a basic way that involves clashing colours and much flashing of men’s underwear in tights. Lighting is pretty much house lights, and there is no use of recorded sound – just some voices off – but none is needed. The focus is on the characters and their interactions, which unfold at a good pace.
Actors is a fun look at performers in a difficult situation, that could be strengthened by more grounded performances from some of the cast, but passes the time entertainingly enough – which is what it sets out to do.
12-25 August (not 18), 20:50 (21:40) @ Paradise in the Vault