Monster/Clock | Smock Alley Theatre
Star Rating: 5/5
Venue: Smock Alley
Date: Until the 7th of April
Writer: Eoghan Quinn
Director: Dan Colley
Cast: Jack Gleeson, Clare O'Malley, Aaron Heffernan, Kate Kennedy, Eoghan Quinn.
Chorus: Grainne Pollock, Richard Shaffrey, Maedhbh McHugh, Martina McGregor.
Monster/Clock quite modestly proclaims itself to be "a play on time". Perhaps the soft sell approach is one of the reasons why this musical/puppet/theatrical extravaganza so thoroughly blows the unsuspecting audience away? However, I believe the more likely reason for this production's success to be the potent ingredients of great writing, solid acting, a beautiful soundscape and a healthy sense of humour that is carried through every synapse and sinew of the ensemble and maintained from start to finish.
Toby is an apprentice clockmaker and, we are told, a Monster. The incongruity of this blonde-haired and wide-eyed boy, played by Jack Gleeson, striking fear into the various creatures that encounter him in the workshop, is the beginning of a precedent for the eccentric approach that the production takes. Toby is an outcast unlikely to succeed as a monster in a world of…erm…non-monsters, yet over the course of the play he learns some life lessons, forms valuable friendships, sets sail on tremendous adventures and discovers that the underdog can ultimately turn out to be the hero.
As he voyages to rescue his mentor, the clockmaker, from the clutches of the ingeniously devised evil swans Burdock and Spencer, Toby meets a host of perfectly imagined characters. Old Father Time, played brilliantly by Kate Kennedy, has an air of gentle superiority recognisable from any number of Disney films, while Aaron Hefffernan's Coco the Caribbean Komodo Dragon will have you in convulsions (and wondering how he maintains that level of energy…)
You may think you've heard it all before and, yes, you have. Monster/Clock gleans bits and pieces from every children's fable you've ever heard and the cast's mimicry of the good guys' earnestness and the villains' dastardliness results in a piece that has it's tongue so firmly embedded in it's cheek, its no wonder they steered clear of ventriloquism. With this play, Eoghan Quinn has written a satire on children's pop culture that is laugh out loud funny and only made more so by the flawless comic timing from a cast who outdo themselves as an ensemble.
My one small issue with Collapsing Horse's show is that it claims to be pitched at adults and children over 8. I would argue that perhaps this age range is a little ambitious and unnecessary for a play that appeals to an adult audience so completely – the beauty of Monster/Clock is that it uses children's themes and the style of children's literature and productions in a satirical fashion, not that it appeals across the board.
Monster/Clock is a stand-alone triumph, and as a company's first show, nothing short of astounding. Just as our hero learned his lessons on the value of time, so should you, get to Smock Alley before it's too late!
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Friday 30th March 2012 | Theatre
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