Theatre Reviews: The Ref, Waking Beauty

The Ref

It’s all song and dance about the referendum and fairytale romances in our second round-up of reviews from the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival


The Ref by Acting Out

 Rating *****

The latest show from Dublin LGBT drama group, Acting Out is a musical that takes us back to last year’s marriage referendum. Written by Sean Denyer, it tells the story of Susanne and Clive, gay and lesbian parents of teenager Oisín, and their fight against Deirdre Kilbride, self-proclaimed leader of ‘Mammies’s For God’, as the Yes and No sides go head-to-head. They start by getting involved in a heated debate on a radio phone-in, and whilst the Yes side is out canvassing doors, Deirdre Kilbride is relying on the power of ‘God’s will’.

The Acting Out cast is full of energy and great comic timing, especially Lorcan McElwain as goth teenager, Oisín, in this infectiously funny, but sometimes savage, take on the referendum. The fast-paced scenes climax in a TV debate, where the opposing sides burst into song to deliver their messages. The songs, with music by Mark Power and Cal Folger Day, are hugely enjoyable, with a stand out performance by Power on the song, ‘I Love the Gays’, which has a gorgeous melody paired with the most patronising sentiments about gay people you’ll ever hear.

This play touches on an important emotional journey that is still fresh in our hearts and minds, and pulls no punches when reflecting on all the anger and pain caused by the No campaign, though it uses dark comedy to express this. The Ref is clearly a must-see of the festival. Seraina Vogel

 The Ref continues at The Pearse Centre at 7.30pm until 7th May with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm. Tickets €15/13 available at or on the door

Waking Beauty 

Rating ****

Girl meets prince, prince proposes, girl marries prince and becomes princess, and later queen. And everyone lives happily ever after. Really? That’s the question posed in this modern feminist fairytale from British theatre group the Minerva Collective, written by Irish writer Leigh Douglas, which brings us to a very different magical world of passion and betrayal.

An ambitious mother lives her life for her daughter and will do pretty much anything to ensure her offspring’s path to a royal marriage. The daughter, however, has other plans, and falls in love with a passing female stranger, much to the disgust of her mother. The tension escalates.

The cast of four delivers a marvelous performance, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats all the way. Even though it’s categorised as a work in progress, it feels much more like a finished and well-polished piece. If only all fairytales were this way inclined. Highly recommended. Seraina Vogel

Waking Beauty continues at The Pearse Centre at 9.00pm until 7th May with a matinee on Saturday at 4.00pm. Tickets €15/13 available at or on the door

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