Dublin Fringe Festival: Break

HotforTheatre's BREAK as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2013. Photo: Richard Gilligan

HotforTheatre's BREAK as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2013. Photo: Richard Gilligan

The death of a popular secondary school student throws into sharp relief the disappointments and desires of an overworked team of teachers. When music teacher Jeff (Tom Lane) makes a hash of the memorial mass held for the dead student, vice principal John (Damian Devaney) brings in a workshop facilitator named Kelly (Elayne Harrington) to help the students express their grief through the medium of rap and the spoken word. Kelly’s presence further disrupts the already chaotic atmosphere of the teachers’ break room, as she becomes a figure of desire and derision among the rest of the faculty.
Playwright Amy Conroy (who also portrays German teacher Jan) still brings the fragile humanity that characterised her earlier work, but this latest attempt sometimes struggles to find coherence in terms of crafting a dynamic and driving plot. The scenes are entertaining as short segments, but they cover the same issues (the teachers are disillusioned and feel disconnected from their students) over and over again without pushing the action convincingly forward. Director Veronica Coburn’s decision to insert stylistic lighting and musical interludes right in the middle of scenes further slackens the pace. Paul Keogan’s lighting is impressive, particularly in the mimicking of a Xerox machine in scene transitions, and Keogan’s set — white, wide-open and institutional —cleverly recalls both the impersonal drabness of a school hall and the unnerving sterility of a psychiatric hospital. While ultimately uneven, Break is still able to both touch and challenge us thanks to a committed and endearing cast.

Star rating: ★★★

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  • Theatre

Dublin Fringe Festival: Break by HotForTheatre

7-21 September, 2013

Produced by HotForTheatre
In Project Arts Centre

Writer - Amy Conroy
Director - Veronica Coburn
Set and Lighting Design - Paul Keogan
Costume Design - Sinéad Cuthbert
Sound Design - Tom Lane
Dramaturgy - Veronica Coburn
Choreographer - Ciarán Gray
Producer: Jen Coppinger

Cast includes: Clare Barrett, Amy Conroy, Damien Devaney, Elayne Harrington, Tom Lane and Mark Fitzgerald