Tom and Vera

Tom and Vera at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin
On Wednesday 25th September last I attended a feisty performance of “Tom and Vera” at the Samuel Beckett Theatre which is on the campus of Trinity College Dublin. The production was written and directed by Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy, Set Designed by Dominique Brennan, Costume Design by Caroline Harrington, Lighting Design by Stephen Dodd, Hair and Make-up Design by Beth Young.
The action is set in a suburban woodland clearing, possibly in a remote wooded area of a public park. The collaborative engagement of the performers, director, lighting and audience with the space makes for an individual immersive experience of the performance. Unfortunately the immersive experience was punctured intermittently by noise and voices coming from an adjacent rehearsal or performance space.
Dominique Brennan presents the performance space as an isolated grassy clearing in woodland. The floor area was defined by a very realistically dressed grassy island accommodating deciduous trees, shrubs, a clump of Cyclamen, tufts of weeds, tall grass, twigs, branches, leaves, a stuffed Fox (stage right) and small brown bird possibly a Robin (down front near centre). While the trees were on taught safety lines suspended from the grid, they appeared to grow convincingly from the woodland floor and did not sway or wobble unconvincingly at any time even as the characters brushed their way through them in the woodland.
All this was ensconced in three walls of black drapes which assisted in confining attention on the performers and supported the immersive experience. Dominique Brennan’s scenographic interpretation and staged presentation was visually satisfying, effective and economical.
Caroline Harrington Costume Design and Make-up were effective in giving the characters a credible appearance/sense of being a suburban, middle class, middle aged couple.
As the drama unfolds the encroaching mental and physical deterioration of the characters was convincingly supported by Costume and Make-up designs attention to costume and make-up changes.
The Lighting Design was subtle and sensitive in conveying not only the time of day, weather but added to dramatic moments. I would question the necessity for the on stage “light reflectors”, perhaps they were necessary to light some of the down stage close intimate moments!
Overall a contrastingly comfortable setting in which this edgy, unsettling drama unfolds.
The programme was minimal; Programmes that provide useful content such as the Director’s view on the play and/or comments and sketches by the designers giving insight into some of the thought process behind the concept development are to be encouraged.
Such input from the Director and the Designers is of immense value to students of Design for Stage and Screen, Performance, Design for Performance and when provided is to be welcomed.
Joe Lawlor:        
Christine Molloy:
Dominique Brennan:
Caroline Harrington:
Stephen Dodd:            no link found   
Beth Young       
Samuel Beckett Theatre
Desperate Optimists
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