Review: Risk

DIR/WRI: Laura Poitras • PRO: Brenda Coughlin, Yoni Golijov, Laura Poitras • DOP: Kirsten Johnson, Laura Poitras, Katy Scoggin • ED: Erin Casper, Melody London, Laura Poitras • MUS: Jeremy Flower • CAST: Julian Assange, Sarah Harrison, Jacob Appelbaum


It’s fascinating how much the world has changed in a few short years. In an era of Brexit and the Trump administration, not only has does the dilemma of extreme government surveillance seem like a relic from long ago, but global attention on privacy infringement has diminished as well. In this regard, leave it to a documentarist like Laura Poitras to renew those fears back into the mind once more. Accompanied with the dark conspiratorial style that has become a Showtime productions signature, Risk distinguishes itself as an unnerving and elucidating post-mortem on one of the biggest scandals of the decade.

Admittedly, as the documentary begins, it’s easy to forgive any misgivings viewers might have regarding its subject. In Poitras’s recorded production notes, she admits “this is not the film I thought I was making” and the early footage reflects this. Beginning in 2011, Risk starts as quite an unfocussed overview of Wikileaks and its members at the time, struggling to mesh what the documentary began as with what we eventually see on the screen. For anyone requiring an account on Wikileaks, We Steal Secrets remains the definitive text on the subject.

However, what distinguishes Poitras’ account is its remarkable insider experience as each development unfolds right up to earlier this year. Its connections to 2014’s Citizenfour are more than narrative, as it shares the earlier documentary’s sense of heavy paranoia. What made Edward Snowden’s story incredible was the intense immersion given by Poitras into the NSA scandal as it was planned for release. Risk offers the same experience but is more reflective in tone. It bleakly offers insight into the aftermath of an act of dissidence, and how easily a group like Wikileaks can crumble from government pressure. It’s easy to almost forget what the dilemma actually was when all attention was given to Assange and Snowden rather than the documents released.

That isn’t to suggest Poitras’  subjects are guiltless in their acts, as she gives startling views of both Assange and Jacob Appelbaum, Wikileak’s other significant former member. While his tone is facetious, when Assange is asked about the rape allegations, he remarks half-sincerely that he should have such accusations recur every six months as it is good for public attention. Likewise Poitras gives both a personal account and other’s experiences on Appelbaum’s history of abuse and sexual harassment. While Appelbaum’s and Assange’s stories are inexorably linked with the document leaks, Risk makes it explicitly clear that the men responsible shouldn’t be valorized, even if their cause for exposing government abuse of power is an honourable one.

Risk focuses on a difficult subject to engage with, but helps reignite the conversation that should be had on how much governmental control is simply too much. Poitras finds fresh ground to cover, bringing the important stories of the past back into the present spotlight where it’s as important as ever to discuss. Personally speaking, Risk is the kind of documentary to make becoming a hermit an increasingly tantalizing possibility.

 Michael O’Sullivan    

122 minutes
15A (See IFCO for details)

Risk is released 30th June 2017

Risk – Official Website



A review of ‘Risk’ by award-winning Youth Theatre Company


Rose Byrne reviews Risk by award winning Youth Theatre Company.

Award winning Roscommon County Youth Theatre captivated their audiences with their production of Risk written by John Retallack and directed by Catherine Sheridan, on Thursday 30th and Friday 31st of January. It was the premiere of the play in Ireland.

I was fortunate to be able to attend both performances. Each night, the audience were glued to their seats with the cast’s convincing portrayal of their characters. The play is based on true life stories from teenagers at risk.  As such, the play was told through five main characters in a series of monologues. Arron Byrne played “Paul” the gambler, Molly Mew played “Michelle” the fighter, Ronan Kearney played “Martin,” the prisoner, Gabia Neverauskaite played “Ann-Marie” the opponent and Michael Foley played “Ed” the rebel. All five actors excelled in their convincing performance of the reality facing teenagers in today’s society.  They each brought us on their journey of risk taking, their reasons for taking such big risks and what they learned about themselves.  Although the play was originally performed with a cast of five, this production had an ensemble cast of twenty. The director brilliantly interspersed the monologues with other cast members injecting “risks” involved throughout a young person’s life.

Throughout the play, there was an exciting mix of dance, narrative, text and multi-media. There were two strong solo performances from Enya Reilly and Katie Kelly in dance and song.  The sequences the cast performed were amazing and they were all in perfect unison.  As one audience member remarked, “It was like they were one body,” such was the perfection of their moves. It was clear to see the talent, dedication and commitment of these young actors ranging in ages from fourteen to eighteen and the strong bond that exists between them. The set was simple, the exceptional lighting added to the mood as did the music, which was played by Rudhan Mew, who did an excellent job.

As another audience member, a secondary school teacher remarked, “The play was very relevant to teenagers today. It showed what’s going on for a lot of them. Every school should see it.”  Indeed, young and old alike got something from the play. Some were reminded of their own teenage years, while others said, “This really gives me an insight into young people’s lives today.”  Certainly the play contains a message, but the characters simply tell their story, giving the audience a glimpse into their lives. It also gives a message to teenagers that there is a way out of problems they might be facing.  It was such an innovative production, with superb performances, it left a lasting impression with the audience long after they left the theatre.

Michelle Carew, Director, The National Association for Youth Drama, who attended Friday night’s performance, had this to say:

“It was a pleasure to see Roscommon County Youth Theatre exemplify all that is best in youth drama with their recent production of Risk at Roscommon Arts Centre. A strong ensemble of committed young performers, high production values, inventiveness and a real relevance to young people’s lives characterised the experience. Much as the title suggests, every member of the cast was challenged to take risks as performers and each had the opportunity to express their individual talent within the supportive structure of a tight-knit and dynamic group of peers. The results of regular participation in drama workshops led by director Catherine Sheridan could be felt throughout the production, reminding the audience of the hard work and dedication that underpins the work that reaches the stage. Well done to all the members and team at RCYT and well done too to Roscommon County Council for ensuring the continued availability of youth theatre in Roscommon.”

Roscommon County Youth Theatre are happy to announce they will be accepting new members February 15th 10am-12pm at Roscommon Art Centre. YOU MUST REGISTER prior to this at 9.30am. This will be first come basis. Reserve your place now by contacting 086 874 7024086 874 7024.

Members must be 14-22 and show a keen interest & commitment to theatre. Workshops will run weekly Saturday mornings from 10am-12 p.m at Roscommon Arts Centre. This will be led by Artistic Director of the company Catherine Sheridan & many guest tutors from leading theatre & film industry.
Special Thanks to: Parents, Members, Audience, Roscommon County Council, Roscommon Arts Centre, Brain Farrell Photography, Roscommon Herald and Roscommon People.”  Catherine Sheridan.

Photos:            Brain Farrell.












Award-Winning Youth Theatre bring latest production ‘Risk’ to Roscommon Arts Centre



Photo by Brian Farrell


Rose Byrne takes a the look at award-winning Roscommon County Youth Theatre, who are once again bringing a brand new show to Roscommon Arts Centre on the 30th and 31st of January. 

This year’s production, Risk, written by John Retallack and directed by Catherine Sheridan is an exciting mix of dance, narrative and text. What makes this play different though, is it doesn’t just come from the writer’s imagination. John Retallack, devised the play after working with teenagers at risk on a series of workshops. It gives a voice to these young people, lets us see what they really have to deal with, not just the usual perceptions one might hold about stroppy, typical or violent teenagers. But as the writer himself said in Coffee-Table Notes, speaking to arts writer Neil Cooper, “Characters have been condensed and there is no one person identifiable, but its’ all come out of stories we’ve been told.”

The stories unfold through a series of monologues from five main characters. They each bring us on their own personal journey of what leads them into taking such big risks. Michael Foley, who plays Ed the rebel, remarked, “I think this play is an opportunity to showcase the extremes that some teenagers are pushed to and how they deal with these situations.”
Surprisingly, they come to learn a lot about themselves through the risks they take. Eventually, they are all faced with life changing decisions. Arron Byrne, who plays Paul, the gambler, said, “I see this play as a perfect way of showing parents the difficulties teenagers can be faced with on a daily basis. It also gives hope to teenagers that face these challenges, they’re not alone and there is a way out.”

This production is very much an ensemble piece with a cast of eighteen members of RCYT who are all looking forward to portraying the character’s stories. Molly Mew, who plays Michelle, the fighter, said, “Playing Michelle is a challenge because she is such a broad character. However, youth theatre has taught me how to portray the emotions the character experiences.” Ronan Kearney who plays Martin, the prisoner, said, “The audience can expect to see the concept of taking a risk in a new light and discover what risk means to different people, sometimes with humorous consequences.” Gabia Neverauskaite, who plays Ann-Marie, the opponent added, “I found doing the play through monologue was challenging, however, I really enjoyed playing such a complex role.”

With several highly acclaimed productions performed over thirteen years, with plays such as, The Crucible, Chatroom, The Railway Children, and The Roses of Eyam to name but a few, the audience can look forward to another exciting, fresh and vibrant show from RCYT. As always, the cast and their director have approached this play with the same level of professionalism and passion we have come to expect from this very talented youth group. This new show, Risk, is a must see for teenagers and adults alike, the story is thought provoking, humorous and surprising. No doubt, this is a show that will stay with the audience long after they have left the theatre.

Tickets for Risk are on sale now at Roscommon Arts Centre and can be purchased online or by calling (090) 6625824. The performances take place on Thursday, 30th and Friday, the 31st of January. Concession prices for schools, youth groups and community groups are €7 if you quote “I’ll never be bullied again” when booking and all other tickets at concession prices of €10 if you quote “Hello, Mister Fridge.”

RCYT are supported by Roscommon County Council and the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon.