The citizens of a sleepy seaside town find out that the power of live theatre is not something to be taken lightly when they hire a pair of big city actors to present a series of dramatic masterpieces one fateful summer.
Should you see it?
Drama at Inish takes place in the drawing room of a small family-owned hotel. It opens with frenzied preparations for the arrival of the De la Mare Repertory Company, contracted by the local tourism committee to breathe new life into the town’s tiresome seasonal entertainment program.While the dark works of Ibsen and Chekov are initially a welcome reprieve from the usual comedies and circuses, they gradually begin to affect the townspeople in strange ways. This leads to attempted suicides and murders, assaults, arson and other tragedies as the citizens of Inish draw parallels between what they see onstage and their own realities.
Despite this grim content, Drama at Inish is lighthearted and amusing because of how silly and self-absorbed the characters become. Their transformations are hilarious but easily understood as we have all magnified our own problems (and became the stars of our own dramas!) at one time or another. Lennox Robinson’s script is well-paced and allows for just the right amount of action and character development.
The characters in this play can be annoyingly superficial but they are all so energetic and unique that this may be forgiven. It is easy to fall for the charm of the ridiculously vain actors, Constance (Cristina Kindi) and Hector (Michael Guest), but the real stars of this show are the hotel’s proprietors: John and Annie Twohig (Mike Kennedy and Janet Uren), their son Eddie (Kurt Shantz) and John’s sister Lizzie (Margaret Harvey-O’Kelly). These actors do a wonderful job bringing their relationships to life; their characters are so realistic and believable, I sometimes felt like I was watching my own relatives. Andy Moggridge also deserves mention for his noteworthy musical performance in the second act.
Some may criticize Drama at Inish for being predictable and unsubstantial, but that’s the point. This show pokes fun at the pretensions of actors and questions the role of performing arts: are all good works necessarily those that intellectually challenge, inspire and educate or can a show be worth watching if it is merely entertaining? This is a question that will be relevant as long as theatre is performed, and in the case of Drama at Inish, the answer seems to be: why can’t a show be both?
The cohesive overall design of the show, coupled with its strong ensemble cast, make it impossible not to get lost in Inish and its drama. I won’t give away the ending but the final scene is delightful and left me smiling.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d like to hear what you thought. Can a play be worth watching even when it is not considered intellectual? What did you think of Drama at Inish? Let us know in the comments below!
Drama at Inish runs until April 12th at the Ottawa Little Theatre. For more information, check out our preview article here.