By David Hennessy
Tell it Slant launched at The Hope Theatre in Islington last week. The play shows what happens when a catastrophic event throws a press office out of control.
It is an ordinary day in the office. Dara is complaining about his weekend being ruined and it looks like the starkest surprise he will be hit with is the new member of the team, Vick, being someone that he happens to have a bit of a romantic history with.
However, with a loud crash and the earth shaking, Dara, Vick and their colleagues know this is no ordinary day.
Although they don’t know if it is a terrorist attack or another kind of disaster, they still have to answer questions and somehow control what journalists are putting out.
The traumatic day puts things into perspective with Dara and Vick becoming closer to each other by the end of the day than either of them would have thought possible during Dara’s frosty welcome.
There is a lot to like about Tell it Slant. The cast do really well.
This is admirable as lead actors Clíodhna McCorley, from Antrim, and Joshua Jewkes swap roles each night to demonstrate how the same scene can change on how men and women are seen to be acting. For example, a man being quite vulnerable and a woman stepping up to be the boss go against stereotypes. I saw Joshua play Dara and Clíodhna playing Vick. I am curious to know how it plays the other way around.
The quick one-liners are out loud funny. A lot of the dialogue rings true. For instance, Vick talks about young journalists being sent to do the death knocks and other aspects of her former career as a journalist. All seems well researched and true to life.
This is no doubt due to playwright Maev Mac Coille being a press officer for the House of Commons. Indeed, the setting feels believable right the way through.
A small criticism would be that early on in the play some of the lines felt a little stagey when they could have been more natural but this disappeared as the play went on.
Also, toward’s the play’s end Vick says something offhand that justifiably angers the senior press officer played by Irishman Vincent Shiels simply because he knew the people affected by the incident. I didn’t believe someone like Vick would really have said such a thing as someone with her experience would have known more tact.
All in all, the cast and the team deserve credit for their ambition here and how they pulled it off.
Check out our video above where we chat to playwright Maev Mac Coille and Clíodhna McCorley. We wrote about Clíodhna and how she has returned from a brain tumour to be back onstage here.
Tell it Slant runs until 14 March.