It Only Ever Happens in the Movies

National Youth Theatre presents 'It Only Ever Happens in the Movies'. Photo: Ros Kavanagh

National Youth Theatre presents 'It Only Ever Happens in the Movies'. Photo: Ros Kavanagh

National Youth Theatre presents 'It Only Ever Happens in the Movies'. Photo: Ros Kavanagh

National Youth Theatre presents 'It Only Ever Happens in the Movies'. Photo: Ros Kavanagh

The course of true love never did run smooth, particularly when you’re getting rubbishy advice from Cillian Murphy.

The National Youth Theatre’s yearly productions are more often than not plays of the canon, updated to appeal not only to youthful audiences, but also to their youthful performers. They are always staged with exuberance, more often than not are injected with a dose of pop music, and in the case of certain classics, are generally trimmed to move at a vigorous pace. This year, under the direction of Mikel Murfi, there is all that and more, as the cast of 16 had a hand in creating the very story they’re telling, from scratch. Devised by the cast and crew, It Only Ever Happens in the Movies tells of that painful course of love, and does so with all the brio one comes to expect from NYT’s work.

There was a point, however, when one became rather conscious of the disparity between the roles the lads played, as opposed to the lasses.

Photo: Ros KavanaghDerek (Michael Noonan) has never kissed a girl; he sees all his friends snogging left, right and centre, and he bemoans his hopelessness. He’s never had a girlfriend, and it seems as though he never will. An inveterate cinephile, he’s sure that if only he could be as cool as the dudes he sees in the pictures, then it’d all come to the good... if only he could be as slick as, say, someone like... Cillian Murphy...

In a series of set pieces that run throughout the piece, Murphy himself appears on video, as if in dreams, to Derek, sporting a 'totally awesome' Hollywood accent, and proceeds to appoint himself as mentor to young Derek. His advice is abominable, and provides the spine for many of the set pieces that follow, a spine that breaks under the pressure of real life. About halfway through the play, as mentioned, one cannot fail to notice that while all the boys have developed into characters, with noticeable personalities, and names to boot, the girls are merely there to act as the objects of the boys' schemes to hook Derek up. It’s enough to make the grey hair on one’s head curl in frustration and annoyance... until we realize that they have all been playing roles in order to help Derek out as well.

It serves to take some of the sting from the tail, and in fairness to the young women in the cast, after this admission has been made, they all manage to have their moment in the spotlight, On the one hand, it is always a pleasure to watch a piece that is one step ahead of the audience; on the other, there’s the girl in the green and white polka dot dress, who is clearly as awkward as Derek, whose story might have been interesting to hear as well.

The cast are as professional as you please, managing many highly physical moments with the aplomb of seasoned devisers. A familiar script can often act as a formidable bulwark for actors who haven’t had much exposure, but this lot are brave, eschewing familiar words and sceneography for something new, that they’ve made up themselves. They have a lot of fun at the end, pairing up and quoting famous lines of celebrated fictional big screen couples, and even if it only ever happens in the movies, they certainly left us with exactly the sort of ending that Hollywood would be proud of.

Susan Conley is a writer and critic.

  • Review
  • Theatre

It Only Ever Happens in the Movies by National Youth Theatre

24 - 27 August, 2011

Produced by National Youth Theatre
In Peacock Theatre

Devised by the Cast

Directed by Mikel Murfi

Set Design: Sabine Dargent

Costume Design: Catherine Fay

Lighting Design: Eamon Fox

Sound Design: Ivan Birthistle & Vincent Doherty

Choreographer: Emma Martin

With: Michael Noonan, Áine O’Hara, Charlie Kelly, Clodagh Duggan, Darragh Downes, David Atkinson, Donall Courtney, Éllis O’Sullivan, Jordan Gallagher, Julie Maguire, Kate Finnegan, Liam Mulcahy, Lisa Daly, Mollie Ball, Molly O’Shea, Sarah McGoohan