Michael Shand's new one-hour play starts with two men visiting the edge of the cliff from which their friend fell a year before. Micky (Greg Esplin) is convinced that their mate Paddy was pushed; Andy (Thomas Hallen) thinks he jumped. Paddy's brother Doug (James Boal), who unexpectedly joins them, is too emotionally raw to decide either way. It takes a visit from the Ghost of Paddy (Des O'Gorman) to establish the truth.
Shand’s writing truly sparkles on occasions, especially when mixing absurdist humour with pathos.
Shand’s writing truly sparkles on occasions, especially when mixing absurdist humour with pathos, played to perfection by Hallen. Yet his writing also has serious implications on the casting of the show; O’Gorman is given lines which clearly indicate he's playing a teenager but he's distractingly too old for that part.
Essentially, The Cliff is explores the extent a person will go to hide a secret; it’s just a shame that the secret on this occasion is so predictable – it might have been more interesting to keep the secret under wraps and let audiences draw their own conclusions.
The show’s programme gives no director's credit, but they have made the best of the restrictions of the Augustine Studio Theatre, a space which doesn’t lend itself well to dramas. By limiting the audience to 42, they also ensure that everyone has the same viewing opportunity. Solid performances from the entire cast abound, especially Esplin whose naturalism delivers a character full of conviction.
This is clearly a play from a writer still finding his way, but it promises well for the future; The Cliff has good comedic moments, and a plot which–some padding notwithstanding–drives the action along. Just some more appropriate age casting might have improved the presentation more.