The Well of the Saints

Tue 9th – Sat 13th June 2015


Megan Dunne

at 02:08 on 10th Jun 2015



I struggle with writing a review for Well of the Saints, because I don’t wish to be exceedingly negative, but much of what I can say must be taken as constructive criticism. My main feeling walking away from the Playroom was that I had watched people say things on stage for an hour, rather than acting in a dialogue with each other. The dialogue was almost without pause or time for reaction, and lines were mostly spoken without any change in inflection or variation in tone or feeling. On top of that, although Irish speech is known for being rapid, the actors often spoke so quickly that I missed several lines of dialogue in every scene. I got the impression that the production of the play had been rushed; that perhaps the actors had not had enough rehearsal time. Notably, there was a lack of attention to detail in costumes, props and dialogue. Ellen McGrath’s costume as Mary Doul included chipped toenail polish and black leggings, neither of which are accurate for the setting, time of the play, or the age of her character. Furthermore, although the ‘ageing’ makeup was believable on Henry Wilkinson, it was badly matched to McGrath’s pale skin, and appeared as dark grey lines haphazardly applied to her face. One scene centred around Tommy the Smith and Martin Doul chopping wood, but Harrison MacNeill wielded a mallet rather than an axe throughout. At several points actors seemed to confuse the names of Mary Doul and Molly Byrne (I’m unsure if this was in the script), and pronunciations of ‘Doul’ varied throughout. Physicality and facial expressions were often awkward and unmatched to the dialogue. On some good notes, however, Wilkinson’s portrayal of Martin Doul was certainly enjoyable. His performance garnered the most laughs, and deservingly so. His costume was well put together and pleasing, suitably shabby but colourful. For a cast of mixed nationalities, although Tilly Fletcher often slipped into false notes, the Irish accents were mostly believable and consistent throughout. The use of mulch and logs in the set was lovely, as the woody scent of the Irish countryside hit you as soon as you sat down. Overall, I believe The Well of the Saints has potential to be very good, but it falls short of this as of yet. With a little more focus and engagement, and some careful thought on the part of the actors and production team, I’m sure this production can live up to its full ability to entertain an audience.


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