Chicks at the Theatre Review of Tell It Slant
Tell It Slant debuted at The Hope Theatre, London on 25thFebruary 2020. Tell It Slant is a dark comedy written by up and coming Irish playwright Maev Mac Coille. One unique aspect of the play is that it was written without specifying the gender of the two main characters, so that throughout the run they alternate roles to “show how the characters change, or don’t, when one is a man and one is a woman.” In the version I went to see, Dara was played by Joshua Jewkes and Vick by Cliodhna McCorley.
The play begins with Dara and Sam starting their day at the press office in which they work. Their more recent press release about cats had kept Dara’s phone ringing throughout the weekend. The light-hearted atmosphere of the topic and the banter between the two characters creates an atmosphere that starkly contrasts with the atmosphere later on in the play. The initial banter drew the audience in and gave us an understanding of the typical story the press office dealt with, Vick joined the team for her first day at the press office and we quickly see that Dara and Vick have history. When a sudden explosion occurs, the characters are left with no idea of what is going on and have to answer difficult questions very quickly with limited information, leaving us to see how people cope under terrifying circumstances, and how in those circumstances they deal with relationships and more importantly with truth.
This play had the audience hooked throughout. The play itself describes the press office saying, “It should feel like a bunker, though it doesn’t have to resemble one.” And later “As time progresses, the press office should feel as though the walls ae closing in- as the pressure on the characters grows, the space becomes more oppressive, sound bouncing around with no escape possible.” The Hope Theatre is such an intimate venue that this was perfectly incorporated with the layout of the room. A large table was in the centre of the stage, with two rows for audience on three sides surrounding the table. It left little room for the actors and almost felt as if we were part of the performance. The characters knew the world was watching them to see what move they would make in the play, and we could see their distress very clearly.
I cannot praise Maev Mac Coille enough for her ability to layer plots and tension in a scene. The idea of ‘Fake News’ and ‘A Fall Man’ become increasingly important throughout the play and open a dialogue on if the truth is more important than squashing panic. The director (Erica Miller) and playwright work in sync and after reading the play, I think that the message was portrayed truthfully. You can tell that they have worked together before. They founded the theatre company ‘the Merry Spinsters’ in 2019 and ‘Tell it Slant’ was inspired by the playwright’s experience responding to press during the 22 March 2017 terrorist attack.
The acting in this play is fantastic. In a dialogue heavy play, we are left hanging on their every word. Straight shooting Vick and clumsy Dara react completely differently in crisis and the story of these two is quite comedic with Dara admitting he wanted to lick Vicks face. Although, it is Dara who steps up in the face of crisis. If you would like to see an intimate play with great actors and a tense, dramatic storyline, I would recommend you see ‘Tell it Slant’.
Tell It Slant will run until the 14thof March at The Hope Theatre. Tickets are available at https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/thehopetheatre/tell-it-slant/e-yoaxde
Reviewed by Ciara Kelleher
Ciara is an Irish actress, writer and presenter. She completed a BA in International Business in Ireland before moving to London to pursue acting. She has previously published an article with Concern and lived in Luxembourg and South Carolina. She completed the Advanced Intensive Acting Diploma at the Giles Foreman Centre for Acting and has taken on roles such as Queen Margaret, Hazel in ‘Mourning Becomes Electra’ and Cassandra in ‘Women of Troy’ and has written for Radio HaHa!