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THEATRE REVIEW: FTN reviews Lanciatore (the Juggling Man) at Belfast Circus School

May 9th, 2015 by Conor ONeill Comments

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Lanciatore (the Juggling Man)
Until Friday May 17th, 2015
Belfast Circus School
Get tickets and info here
For Booking details phone: 02890 236007

This is my first time at the Belfast School of Circus…

I saw no trapeze artists, not an elephant in sight, nor size 24 comedy-polka-dot-clown-shoes. Thankfully, what I did see was a fascinating piece of off-the-wall theatre. All brought to me and a crowd, I reckon, of 100 lucky souls by the good people of Rawlife Theatre Company.

2014’s Sceptic Tiger is a hard act to follow, but maybe, just maybe, Lanciatore can cage the tiger and see Rawlife step forward and deliver once again.

Belfast playwright Paul Kennedy has put together a beautiful piece of cloth woven by many daughters over the generations and reconciling medieval Italy with the ‘yes guvnor’ ways we know today. And yes, the debt collector does talk with a cockney accent.

Kennedy’s rendition of the romantic age is both compelling and at times funny, though hand on heart I don’t think it goes out of its way to try and be overtly line-after-line humorous. I found this quite refreshing as it lets the story breathe without unnecessary cheap laughs.

The stage setting and the use of props shows co-directors Martin McSharry and Patrick J O’Reilly really know how to make use of this intimate little venue. With most of the audience sitting at stage level, the actors come within touching distance of the crowd. Thankfully they were all using Listerine. Several large blocks of differing shapes are easily pushed together or moved to the rear of the stage as the action desires it.

The plot is that of a down on his luck juggler, Lanciatore. With debtors, or rather one main money lender, played by Michael Liebmann (The Crucible, TV’s casualty and Game of Thrones to name a few) chasing him, Lanciatore juggles not only balls but his ever dithering finances and a wife. Terry Keeley (Dancing Shoes, Philadelphia Here I Come) plays the lead with energy and vim, while his long suffering wife Victoria (Roisin Gallagher – Lally the Scut, The Fall) yearns for a stability Lanciatore is unable to provide.

The rest of the cast are all stalwarts of NI theatre and includes Claire Connor as Ragazze and Vagabodi. The latter being an alluring yet menacing thorn in the juggler’s side. Jo Donnelly plays three roles, the most notable being Ruin, who quite cleverly is teamed up with Rack. Rack and Ruin, get it? Julie Maxwell fulfils the cast, again like Connor and Donnelly, she plays multiple roles. With six veterans playing believable characters with an entertaining plot, this is a lovely piece of theatre.

Dance and music are central to this play and all actors prove their moves as the score changes from typical Italian gondola type music to 1980s style dance. Thankfully sound designer Rui Chaves doesn’t over do it and as central to the play it may be, it doesn’t overshadow it.

Overall, a grand night out. Well written, directed and superbly acted, this is a little treasure up a little alley in Belfast and I thoroughly recommend you go and see it.

4 out of 5 Nerds

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Conor O'Neill is at times a playwright and a qualified journalist. He has worked for the Belfast Telegraph, Portadown Times and South Belfast Advertiser. He also contributes to various online e-zines, specialising in theatre, gig reviews and other cultural events. If you were to ask him what he does, he will say 'I'm functioning'... that's a lie. Best suited to pressure and deadlines, O'Neill thrives on the moment, the passion and the thrill of now, he's only happy when he's watching or reviewing a play.

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