"Hallelujah! Just when I think it's unsafe to go back in a theatre, a gem like this appears on the scene. Go see this company. And bring all your friends."
Susan Conley, WOW

     
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Tick My Box!

Karen Fricker, The Guardian | Saturday April 30, 2005
Tick My Box!, Draiocht Studio, Blanchardstown
Inis Theatre has transformed its hour-long Dublin fringe festival hit into a very entertaining full-evening touring production. At the suburban performance I attended, they had certainly found an ideal target audience: groups of thirtysomething women there to giggle and heckle as actors Iseult Golden and Carmel Stephens showed us the dirty underbelly of the world of speed-dating.

They arrive on stage as dating company organisers Siobhan and Seamus, directly addressing the audience and getting us ready for our speed dating sessions. Then the action becomes a series of quick-change transformations as they embody some two dozen love-seekers. They act out, not just their three minute primary encounters, but interplay in the bar, the toilets, and behind the scenes, as Siobhan and Seamus patrol the action and engage in some strained flirtation of their own.

It is a testament to Golden and Stephens' physical and emotional precision that the characters become instantly familiar, and part of the fun of the evening is the mounting complexity of the action - three different dating encounters woven together; four men bragging about their conquests in the space of a one-minute vignette. Their smart writing (with director, David Horan) also cuts directly to the humanity of each scene: the defensive single dad who lays his situation on the line way too quickly, and the savvy chick who gives him a lesson in manners (and ends up taking him home); the knives out interplay between a loathsome coquette and her much nicer friend; and, most touchingly, the pair who bond by baring scars from past relationships but then don't hook up because he realises he's still not over his ex.

The production even successfully touches on social issues like race (the toilet attendants are black) and class (a bitterly funny standoff between a southside snob and a working-class girl), and there's a teasingly queer subtext: we are never allowed to forget that these heterosexual encounters are being played out by two women.

 

Luke Clancy, The Herald | October 2004
"Make a date to see this 'miracle'."
It takes about five seconds of Tick My Box to realise that you are going to enjoy whatever precious moments you are lucky enough to spend with Iseult Golden and Carmel Stephens. Their bewitching comedy is one that will inspire love at first sight.

Taking as their starting point that valley of the shadow of darkness that is speed dating, the pair have created a fascinating show powered by brilliant performances and stuffed with well-buffed comic writing.

As performers, both Golden and Stephens have the pure craft required to conjure up a fascinatingly three-dimensional character at lightning speed and, then, hop lithely on to another.

But just to prove how thoroughly well-conceived the whole venture is, the pair have built a perfect home for these skills in the fractured against-the-clock conversations of a speed-dating event.

With the help of their director, David Horan, they introduce us to a rich menagerie of lost souls, all hunting with varying degrees of commitment, to find a mate via a series of snatched conversations.

There is the recently escaped abused wife from Coolock and her less than ideal partner, a snobbish ad man whose upturned nose telegraphs his disdain.

Then we meet the nervous potter whose big hands are ogled admiringly by more than one of his potential partners; and the woman who earns 50K and fears she'll never find anyone who measures up to her.

But no matter what character is chatting us up at any moment, fresh observations will be jostling for our attention with great gags.

This brilliantly executed show is a small miracle.

 

Donald Clarke, The Irish Times | Thurs, Sept 23, 2004
Tick My Box!, Bewley's Café Theatre
What extraordinary things Carmel Stephens and Iseult Golden do with the dynamics of posture and the politics of personal space in this rollicking crowd-pleaser from Inis Theatre Company. Playing the two organisers and all the guests, male and female, at a speed-dating evening, the actors, who devised the show alongside director David Horan, convey surprising depths of personality through just the inclination of a shoulder, the tilt of a chin or the restlessness of a lascivious eye... it is rare that one gets to see so many moving and funny stories - the suppressed passion between the organisers is particularly poignantly played - crammed together into such a neat package.

 

Simon Carswell, Sunday Business Post
Tick My Box! Bewley's Cafe Theatre, Grafton Street
Tick My Box! encapsulates all that is good about the Dublin Fringe Festival. Slick, snappy and entertaining, this two-hander about the new phenomenon of speed-dating is a gem.

Iseult Golden and Carmel Stephens play Siobhan and Seamus, the organisers of a speed-dating night, and a host of other mostly desperate characters eager to meet someone special (or not).

There's Sebastian, aka Jock, the boorish Scot who's hoping to get lucky; Garrett, the cynical advertising executive from Ballsbridge; Nancy, a hospital admissions secretary from Coolock with a troubled past; Patrick, the Canadian film lecturer who is faced with a spine-tingling encounter, and Mark, the serial speed-dater who resorts to alcohol to meet the right woman.

The play's strength - aside from the performances from Golden and Stephens - is in its ability to examine the inner demons tormenting the characters and driving them to speed-dating to meet their soul mates.

The plot slips between comedy, poignancy and the darkest of subject matters easily and, at times, combines all three expertly.

Devised by Golden, Stephens and director, David Horan, Tick My Box! is another strong production from the innovative Inis Theatre company.

 

Roberta Gray, The Sunday Tribune
Having experienced first-hand and written about, the phenomenon of speed-dating, it was with interest and slight wariness that I approached Inis Theatre Company's Tick My Box!, a two-hander comedy on the subject currently running in Bewleys Café Theatre. Its fertile ground for a drama, alright, but would they be able to capture just precisely how funny and cringe-making the experience is; would they pinpoint the exact mixture of confidence and vulnerability that marks the speed-dater, the potent mixture of the comic and the - let's face it - tragic?

Within seconds of Iseult Golden's appearance onstage, however, as Siobhan, the hostess for the evening, any doubts flew out of my mind, as I was drawn into the excellent and truly hilarious characterisation. No sooner is Siobhan joined on stage by host Seamus (Carmel Stephens) than the buzzers are going and the actresses whirl into a flurry of speed-dating, snapping from one character to the next as they portray an entire roomful of people, both male and female, each with their own specific background and reasons for being there.

The structure of the play is a fairly standard one, but around it is built a work that sustains both belly laughs and pathos throughout its 75 minute time (no interval): you genuinely start to root for certain characters and really hope they'll meet the good guy/girl and not fall into the snare of the pretentious film lecturer or the vacuous society girl. Shrieks of laughter from the audience indicated that we've all known these characters and been in these situations, speed-dating or otherwise.

The success of Inis Theatre's method - the two actors and director David Horan develop the scripts together - is evident in Golden and Stephens's deft handling of the very fast-moving dialogue. Both are superb actresses, and this is the perfect showcase for their talents: from their physical movements to their accents, they inhabit each character wholeheartedly, and jump from one to the next with breath-taking skill. But there's no empty showing-off involved: this is warm-hearted and totally unprententious stuff. I'm not a betting lady, but this will surely be a hit: it deserves it.

 

To Kill A Dead Man

In Dublin 2003
Inis Theatre turn the Temple Bar venue's studio space into the moody and mad world of noir detective films and monster movies in their third outing. In to Kill a Dead Man, the company - Carmel Stephens, Iseult Golden and David Horan - turn their intelligent gaze towards issues of identity and self-determination, cleverly hidden in the stylistic patter andmelodramatic plot twists of certain genres of Hollywood films.

Grady is a hard-bolied detective who's seen it all, done it all and had it all - or has he? Elsa is a mysterious and woebegone woman who just wants Grady to find her man - or does she? Along the way to revelation, as quirky a cast of characters as ever melted into the shadows of an MGM movie set parade themselves before our dedicated private dick as he tries to solve the mystery of the Jigsaw murders and the mysterious disappearance of Victor Von Frankenstein...

It seems at first glance a fairly obvious denouement awaits us, but true to form, the crew at Inis demand that we exercise our intellect as well as enjoy what is beginning to become their highly evolved style....

Rachel Andrews, Sunday Tribune, 2003
Actors Iseult Golden and Carmel Stephens are a sheer pleasure to watch. Both are flexible and sure-footed, able to move across multiple-roles and hit the comic high notes....Director David Horan once again proves himself as one to watch.

WOW!
McGee's script is rich in the kind of over-blown and over-descriptive noir-detective-talk, and is a delight...both Golden and Stephens are winning performers...Horan, as ever, pays attention to the details...all three continue to be 'ones to watch' on a theatre scene that needs all their ambition and imagination.

 

Lady Susan

"A masterful feat of adaptation… from its safety announcement to the bows and curtseys of its curtain call the show remained a joy" Irish Theatre Magazine

"Theatrical from start to finish." The Irish Times

"Warm, witty and engaging." The Sunday Tribune

 

Lady Susan / The World's Wife Double-Bill

Susan Conley, The Irish Times, August 10th 2002
"All stories are not alike and despite the fact that fiction, poetry, and dramatic literarure can all have a beginning, middle and end, adaptations across forms don't always succeed. Inis Theatre are aware of the fact that should a company fit a novel or a series of poems for the stage, the adaptation had better have all it's theatrical elements teased out to the full; merely getting up and telling a tale is not enough to satisfy the demands of the stage. The company's presentation of The World's Wife illustrates this point perfectly, as Carol Ann Duffy's poems effortlessly make the transition from the page. Each is a gem lovingly and creatively polished by actors Carmel Stephens and Iseult Golden, each a fully realised and richly executed monologue. Whether lively, raucous, poignant or furious, each fully presents the anonymous woman - Mrs Faust, Mrs Midas, Queen Kong - living in the shadow of a famous man. As directed by David Horan, and using the actors' incredibly precise verbal and physical skills, the piece is an unqualified success. Jane Austen's Lady Susan is as equally invigorating and amusing. Based on an early epistolary novel ( not published in the author's lifetime), Austen's tale contains what we've come to expect from her oeuvre: grand houses with reassuringly solid names, coaches and horses, top hats, and empire waists - except that those dresses conceal something unusual in the usual run of things. Here, director Horan and co-director Aoife Monks add a layer of invention and awareness, as arch as a lady's instep, which allows Stephens and Golden a degree of knowing melodrama that warps the cliches of a story about a scheming, hyper-seductive woman versus a virtuous wife. Overall, Stephens and Golden play the emotional scale like virtuosos, all the while conveying a sense of fun that is a pleasure to watch. Add to that Horan's creative interpretation and staging, and the company are a seriously talented bunch making intelligent and engaging theatre."

 

The World's Wife

"Hallelujah! Just when I think it's unsafe to go back in a theatre, a gem like this appears on the scene. Go see this show. And bring all your friends!!" - WOW

"...it's gloriously wicked as well as being impressively talented in presentation and concept...We meet the forgotten wives of the great, the good, the flawed and the ugly: from Frau Freud to Orpheus's lost love Eurydice, from Mme Quasimodo to Mrs Faust. They suffer, they poke fun, they denigrate, they take revenge. Sometimes they love...David Horan directs a cast of two, Carmel Stephens and Iseult Golden. Melanie Rodgers designs, and lighting is by Sinead McKenna. And all are nothing less than a delight". Emer O'Kelly, The Sunday Independent

"Brace yourself! this is an unadulterated, unapologetic, and unabashed rave review, a virtual, veritable gushfest. Where to begin?" WOW

 

 

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