The first time that I saw Ciarán O’Brien in a leading role was as the impressionable lovelorn Warren in a production of Kenneth Lonergan’s This is Our Youth. There, he imbued the character with a memorably puppy-dog vulnerability. Warren, though, at least had time on his side in terms of maturing into adulthood. Here, Gethin, a freshly-minted film studies graduate seems to have come out the other side a hard-boiled cynic and unsympathetic observer of human life. Accordingly, in Brass Eye-fashion, he has now come up with the idea of provocatively exploring the oft-hysterical reactions to the dangers that paedophiles pose. However, whereas Chris Morris ultimately distanced himself from his subject matter through stunts and satire, Gethin foolishly puts himself right in the firing line here… with some unexpected outcomes.
Where writer Stacey Gregg initially seems to put her own stamp on this work is in a challenging comparison of such frenzied worry about perverts in the community with middle-aged mothers telling fellatio jokes whilst worrying about the sexual orientation of pre-pubescent offspring, with adolescent girls shaking and jiggling away at the older objects of their affections, and with modern technology having concocted many new ways for teenagers to humiliate and torment their peers. This questioning of our love-hate fascination with all things sexual is then emphasised by Alyson Cummins’ (underused) background of angled mirrors. However, rather than tease out this premise into something new and thoughtful, the play then turns into an exploration of privacy in a world of detailed databases of personal information, whilst building towards a twist that gives the play more of a sugar-rush ending than a starchy slow-release one. (more…)