(Sara Keating’s, Arminta Wallace’s, and Aifric Ni Chriodhain’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 9/14.)

Animalia ★★★★
Smock Alley Theatre, Boys School
The playground is a battleground in Animalia, which strips the innocence from childhood friendships to reveal their darker side.Writer Ian Toner avoids sentimentality in this brutal representation of a sexually-charged pre-adolescent world, where girls are just one step ahead of gorillas in their primal urge to mate or kill. Director Sarah Finlay makes good use of Katie Foley’s mobile set, moving park benches around to change time and location, and this ensures the monologues never feel static. It is performers Ashleigh Dorell and Louise O’Meara, however, who really bring Toner’s world to life, with expressive performances that veer on caricature but never neglect the human touch. As spider-loving Sarah trudges home through the rain, and Danielle sits alone in her roofless tree house, the audience is left in no doubt that an even more chilling future awaits them. 
– Until Sept 18
Sara Keating

Eggsistentialism ★★★
Smock Alley Theatre Black Box
A woman wakes up with the mother of all hangovers. It is her 35th birthday, and she has a decision to make. Should she have a child before it’s too late? Maybe it’s already too late? What would she gain by having children – and what would she lose? Joanne Ryan invests her journey into fertility and feminism with sparkle, self-deprecating humour and a generous helping of audio-visual technology. Of the latter, the voice of her offstage “mammy” making sharp, wry interjections is hilarious. The video projections are more problematic; a trawl through this country’s dismal history on women’s issues is sobering, for sure, but slows Ryan down just when she should be building towards, ahem, a climax. However, her impeccable comic timing and captivating stage presence carry the day.
– Until Sep 17
Arminta Wallace


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