There’s an hour to go before an amateur production of Hamlet – the star of the show still hasn’t turned up, the rest of the cast hate each other and the director’s an egomaniac. Welcome to the dark side of amateur dramatics, shakily brought to life by Trinity College Dublin’s Underscore Theatre in a hit and miss comedy that often strays worryingly close to the thing it’s trying to satirise.

It’s a cruel irony that what starts out as a send up of bad am-dram comes awfully close to resembling just that.​

At its best, Actors sends up the quirks of traditional am-dram societies – anyone who’s read Michael Green’s excellent Art of Coarse Acting will instantly recognise some of the characters on display here, from the leading diva to the ‘professional actor’ who somehow hasn’t got the major role. There are some genuinely funny touches too, from terrible costumes to bickering cast mates, that will raise a smile from any am-dram veteran.

Admittedly, this kind of humour plays to a somewhat niche audience, so the jokes’ targets have to be broader. In doing so, however, Annie Keegan’s script manages to miss more often than it hits. Everything falls back on the same old character stereotypes: there’s the proud one, the quiet one, the creepy one and so on. We’ve seen these relationships too many times before and the jokes are stale and obvious. Keegan’s direction is also mystifying – characters often leave the stage for no discernible reason. Whilst this is useful from a narrative perspective, it does beg the question: where are they going and what are they doing? In the rare moments when the whole cast is onstage, there is a noticeable drop in energy. For such an apparently volatile group of people, there isn’t much tension between them.

Amidst all of this, there are some good performances to be found. William Brady steals the show as the camp, egotistical director who has serious delusions of grandeur and James Belfast is solid as the lead of the production. Most of the action revolves around him and he handles everything with ease while creating a likable character in the process.

This doesn’t save Actors from being a mainly one-note production though. It’s a cruel irony that what starts out as a send up of bad am-dram comes awfully close to resembling just that.

Reviews by Sam Forbes




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The Blurb

It's 60 minutes and counting until the Tallaght Thespians go onstage with their production of Hamlet. But where on earth is Hamlet? Is Ophelia having a real-life mental breakdown? Why do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern hate each other? And is the director really a visionary or just insane? Come join the dressing room madness as a bunch of amateurs attempt to save a show with no lead, no scripts and no talent. Will they come together in time for opening curtain? Don't bet on it. Actors is a Fringe debut from Dublin's Underscore Theatre.