Review: PERVE at the Peacock Theatre
Asking someone if they’d like to go to PERVE at the Peacock may be an ambiguous statement, but not one you should regret. It’s a clever, insightful, funny and somewhat scary play exploring the dangers of rumour, of betrayal and of internet access.
Gethin is a loser. 23 years old, unemployed, living at home and just finished a film course, he plans to be the next Scorcese, using his concepts for film ideas as justification for not doing very much at all.
He lives with his mother and sister Sarah and hangs around with his friend Nick. Obsessed with his video camera and his own problems we quickly see two sides of him emerge – the “ordinary” 23 year old and a darker, unconventional trait, manifesting itself as ego, a self assured young fella who thinks all around him are wrong while he’s just misunderstood.
Gethin has an idea for a film project – one to explore how rumour, gossip and bitching can get out of hand. He gets his little sister to help him out but very quickly things take a turn for the unexpected….
Perve is an irreverent and unsettling play that interrogates paranoia, ambiguity and innocence in our highly sexualized world.
is what the blurb says and in this case it’s very accurate. I sat through the play looking through my fingers at certain parts as Stacey Gregg’s incisive script exposed many of the faults – and my own insecurities – of living and sharing information online.
“Mum, please don’t try to understand the internet, you’ll hurt yourself.”
Very different to other plays I’ve seen at the Peacock Theatre (now fully wheelchair accessible by the way), Perve is a thoroughly modern, topical and current play with a solid production.
“Tell people at school I’m a perve. Go on, see what happens.”
The script is very funny, though an uneasy laughter and the audience at last night’s opening indulged in the tension, the silence during certain scenes as much a part of the play as the actors.
Sincere praise has to go to three aspects of this play – the cast, the writing and the set. Each character is believable and the actor put in a convincing performance of someone uncomfortable in the situation it portrayed.
“Are you going to tell Social Services it’s a ‘concept’? Gethin? Do you think that’s what you’re going to say to them? Do you want to go down the street to Taylor’s mother, and explain?”
Ciarán O’ Brien as Gethin, the lead, puts in a credible and plausible performance – he’s suitably creepy and provides an excellent counterpoint to the very likable Roxanna Nic Liam as Sarah (a rising star – watch that name) and Peter Campion as Nick, one of the best characters in the play.
Jane Brennan, Hilda Fay and Andrea Irvine are all excellent in their “grown-up” roles – the fact there’s no older male lead only adds to the tension, the sense of betrayal, of misunderstanding and outrage that the play promotes. Certainly Jane Brennan portrays a scary adversary for the protagonist, a character I wouldn’t want to face in a similar situation.
The set is extraordinarily simple – deceptively so. The lighting, sound and sparse furniture all contribute to a sense of isolation and the intensity as the story progresses. We’re left to fill in the gaps – intentional no doubt, but very clever.
It’s a difficult play to say more about without giving more plot away, save that it was very entertaining, quite intense and extremely well performed and produced. There may need to be more clarification at the end but it’s a stellar performance from fine Irish actors, with the back up of excellent direction from Róisín McBrinn and the production team.
I went with Niamh and she probably “enjoyed” it more than I did, and I think it might be an easier play for females to watch than males, given the subject matter. I was very impressed with the entire thing and have no hesitation recommending it. If you can’t “enjoy” it, you’ll certainly appreciate it.
You’ll also check your internet history when you get home…
My thanks to David in the Abbey Theatre for the invitation to review. All photos by Johnny Savage.