DCU Drama’s “The Snapper” first open night

Chief News Editor, Katie O'Shaughnessy

When I interviewed Amy Mcloughlin, The Snapper’s director, before the show, she assured me, “This is a version of the Snapper people have not seen before.” With its small, nine-person cast and immersive elements, the story was told in a way I could not have imagined.

The Snapper, adapted from the Roddy Doyle story and made famous by the cult-classic film, tells the story of Sharon, a young Irish woman, as she deals with her pregnancy. With no clue who the father is – and Sharon is keeping her mouth shut, she and the family deal with the pregnancy together. The 80s Irish-Catholic background that holds the piece together is important in viewing the story as it was then – an utter scandal.

Amy highlighted to me that sticking closely with the source material, particularly the film, alongside the play script, was vital to the performance. This was Amy’s first time directing – despite all of her background experience at her theatre company ‘Slapdash’.

I asked Amy about her vision for the play, and she told me that while the technical elements stayed in place from the start – set, lighting and all of the other things directors must worry about; it was the actors that changed the way the story was told. Amy recited the mantra of her theatre director, Janice de Bróithe: “A Director is not a Dictator.” Despite Amy’s thorough preparation and thought, she acknowledged that the actors knew their characters more intimately than she could: “I’m trying to live in the head of ten characters, and they are just trying to live in the head of one.”

I was promised “fantastic immersive qualities” by Amy. I got them. Characters walked down beside the audience, had drinks metres away and rode bikes down the aisle. The lighting, extended beyond the box of the stage – onto the sides and the floor below, allowing for levels to be played with. The simple set of the living room was frequently transformed into a bedroom or even a car.

The cast and crew had their dream opening night, and so did DCU Drama. Chairperson Jamie Mangan said: “There were a lot of firsts [tonight]: first time on stage, first time directing a show, first time lighting a show… it reminded us all that DCU Drama exists as a way to give new opportunities.”

The cast was brilliant. Andrea Hickey led the pack in her stellar performance as Sharon. Her scenes with her onstage father, Jimmy, played by Mark McCabe, were central to the story and were played perfectly. Everyone in the small cast stood out in their own way – and the delicate technical elements brought together the story.

Robyn Jane Lawlor, who played the role of Yvonne, told me about “first-night nerves” but was calmed by such a positive reaction. She said: “I always get afraid of letting my team down”.
Lily Dowse, who took on two roles, the 20-year-old Jackie and kid-sister Linda, told me that despite her housemates all coming down to see the show – some of it might have gone over their heads. The 80s humour, lost me a little at times, but never to the extent where I was pulled out of it. But maybe that’s for the best, as Lily said: “I think when all the mammies come, they’ll find it even funnier.”

Chief News Editor, Katie O’Shaughnessy

Photos: Kate Byrne @kayayteehee