REVIEW - Valentine’s at Riverbank, Newbridge

Crossfire Theatre Company’s new play Valentine’s starts with the lights coming up on two characters getting down and dirty on the stage.

Crossfire Theatre Company’s new play Valentine’s starts with the lights coming up on two characters getting down and dirty on the stage.

The production, which finishes its run at Newbridge’s Riverbank Arts Centre on Wednesday night, February 15, is a quick-fire, funny but sometimes cutting and rueful wander through one woman’s relationship history.

Rachel Ryan is a Bridget Jones-type, thirtysomething character - though less daffy than Helen Fielding’s creation. She’s heading out for a blind date on Valentine’s night, two years to the day since her ex-boyfriend dumped her, “by text, the bastard!”.

Crossfire’s production puts two characters on stage with the main protagonist - a male and female combined ‘angel and devil’ on her shoulder that takes the audience on an entertaining ride through her previous relationship history.

It’s those two characters we see in the first scene of the play, underlining the point that despite the repeated heartbreak and destruction relationships can wreak, men and women are engaged in an ongoing search for their other halves.

Conceived and directed by Newbridge man Eoin Gannon, the scripting of the play was very much an interactive process with the two actresses and actor who play the characters. This is evident on-stage, with some pithy references to female side of the dating minefield that could only come from its survivors.

Fiona Tuohy from Kilcock puts in a strong performance as everywoman Rachel, who becomes stronger and more confident throughout the play as she puts on her “mask” onstage of make-up, dress and heels.

Yvonne Murphy from Maynooth has a strong sense of comic timing and brings a verve to her performance as the female voice in Rachel’s head, forming a wisecracking partnership with Offaly man Brian Tuohy.

The performance starts slowly, but picks up pace, hitting its stride as it delves into Rachel’s relationship history with re-enactments of her deluded memories of romantic interludes with her ex.

There are a couple of stand-out scenes that had female members of the audience in stitches - notably Rachel addressing ‘The Fear’ of having “moths instead of eggs in her womb” that keeps her looking for a partner.

At under an hour in length and just a tenner in, Valentine’s is definitely worth catching before its run finishes. A word of warning, though, it might not be ideal for a romantic date tonight, but catching it with your single friends defininitely beats a night in with a glass of Chardonnay and some Colin Firth DVDs.

Valentine’s is at the Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge at 8pm on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15. Tickets 10 euros at the door or by calling 045 448330.