“The Streets Are Ours” @ Galway Theatre Festival 2018 – Review by Martin Kenny
“It’s a bit shit everywhere at the end of the day!”
Set in a Longford parking lot behind the local Tesco, ‘The Streets Are Ours’ brings old friends Dean, Casper, Liam and Charlene back together after years of separation and change. Looking to reclaim old times and connect with fading youth, old wounds are made fresh forcing each character to navigate the space between reality and the past aspirations of youth, or risk getting lost in it. Presented by Fregoli Theatre and written by Robert Higgins, ‘The Street Are Ours’ has all the hallmarks of what the company has become known for – new writing, energetic performances and stories from those often forgotten on the Irish stage. The ensemble of Jarlath Tivnan, Ush Robbins, Maria Dillon and Jerry Fitzgerald quickly establish a sense of history amongst friends and tap into the national narrative of emigration and return, teetering all the while between humour and pathos. The physicality of the cast, in particular Oisin Robbins and Jarlath Tivnan, must also get special mention as they equally tell the story with their bodies as well as their voices and words.
Poetic interludes intersperse the dialogue, offering a different view on the characters’ lives and surroundings. These are accompanied by a filmic presentation, feeling like cutaway or montage moments. However, it is in these moments of stretched reality the play loses some steam. Although succinctly transitioned by evocative lighting on the part of Matt Burke, the conviction of the performances slightly lag. The potential strength of these moments to paint a scene of rural Ireland seldom seen on stage is slightly lost. The strong interplay between the cast throughout the show does make up for this, but in bringing this energy to the entire piece, it would have made for a more declarative piece of theatre overall.
That said, the rhythm and pace of the show is handled deftly by Maria Tivnan, allowing genuine emotion and turmoil to come to the fore. The highs and hollows of the characters’ experiences are tangible and gives an audience real substance to hang on to – a pulse you can feel. The moments of tenderness and open communication between the male characters in particular is welcomed in going against stereotypes of rural Irish men as closed off and ineloquent.
Overall, the piece gives voice to the existential crisis of the mid-to-late twenties, where the vast array of opportunities available becomes an overwhelming burden and the inner dialogue of, “should I stay or should I go?” repeats endlessly. Although only getting to skim the surface of the topic in the 50 minute timeframe of the show, it opens discussion on our reliance on memories and home to create a sense of self and future. It is possible to leave home, but it’s impossible to leave it behind.
‘The Streets Are Ours’ runs in the Mick Lally Theatre as part of the Galway Theatre Festival from May 4th – May 7th at 9pm. Tickets can be gotten from the Galway Theatre Festival wesbite.