Tick My Box!
Karen Fricker, The Guardian | Saturday April 30, 2005
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
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
Simon Carswell, Sunday Business Post
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
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
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,
"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
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
© Inis Theatre 2006