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.