Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Guys and Dolls

 The recent excellent production of Guys and Dolls, this year's College Musical, is here reviewed by Fifth Former Courtney McKee:

Walking into the BSR, all that greeted the audience was a silhouette of a city skyline on a plain white sheet. The empty stage seemed to yearn for colour, for the hustle and bustle of New York streets. Where was the noise, the chaos, the yellow cabs? This was Guys and Dolls, right? However, the simplicity of the stage did not foreshadow what was to unfold. The set, it soon became clear, was mere respite from the vibrancy of the costumes, music, and of course actors.

Guys and Dolls has delighted audiences since its premiere on Broadway in 1950, and SCC Drama’s production was no exception. Under the skilful stage direction of Ronan Swift and Tristan Clarke, a handsome collection of put-together, well-dressed, shirt-tucked-in boarding school students were transformed into a ragtag band of petty innercity criminals. Fedoras and Brooklyn accents abounded. The actors pulled off 1940s gangsters well, led by Harry Oke-Osanyintula and Alex Russell as Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Benny Southstreet respectively. Playing off each other’s energy, the pair elevated each scene with their vigour and near Broadway-esque musicality.

It seemed to be the songs, directed by musical producer Geraldine Malone Brady, which really captured the audience’s heart. Tunes like ‘Sue Me’ and ‘Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat’ echoed through St Columba’s halls for days. A particular favourite was ‘I’ve Never Been in Love Before’, a duet between the gambler Sky Masterson, played by Max Hillery, and Mission Leader Sarah Brown, played by Robyn Brady. It wasn’t only the romance of the scene, which would’ve made the strongest of men go ‘aww’, it was also the execution of the notes and compatibility of their voices that really struck. It sounded beautiful, with just a touch of rawness that added to the sentiment of the scene.

Far from the nervous uncertainty of blossoming love was the fourteen year-old engagement of Nathan Detroit, played by MJ McCullough, and Miss Adelaide, played by Ciana Taylor. They were the picture of domestic discord. The ‘reluctant boyfriend trying to appease his eager girlfriend without actually doing what she wants’ thing was down pat. Shrill, nasal, and yet endearing, Ciana Taylor’s portrayal of the eccentrically desperate Miss Adelaide earned her the deserved spot of standout performer of the production.

It doesn’t matter how it’s dressed up. It could be a white sheet or an entire replica of 42nd Street. However one chooses to do it, Guys and Dolls is good pure entertainment. Witty dialogue, droll characterization, and Big Jule from Chicago (James O’Connor) never fail. The right amount of opportune one-liners and dance numbers makes any play enjoyable, it’s a straight fact. Since 1950, Guys and Dolls has been a great way to spend a Saturday night and it sure is now.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Claire Keegan on writing

Saturday, November 21, 2015

TY Book recommendations: Hesse & Dicker

Pia Zulauf recommends Hermann Hesses's Siddhartha:

"Hermann Hesse represents in the legend of Siddhartha a man, who frees himself from family and social conventions, but also rejects any dogma and finds its own way. This leads away from his scholarly father through a long time of searching and getting lost and ends up in nature - at a river as the symbol of permanence and change. The book is a plea against slavery and adaptation. Siddhartha was really impressive for me and gave me a lot of stuff to think about. I would recommend it to anybody who is interested in the sipiritual topic of self discovery."

Ivan Moffitt recommends Joel Dicker's The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair:

"This book is a thoroughly enjoyable read. With over a thousand pages some may be quite skeptical to start with but I managed to read it in three days, just to give you an idea of its quality. It is about a journalist who decides to investigate his life-long friend's murder case because he believes him when he says he's innocent. He ends up caught in the whirlpool of the Somerset murder case. The story follows three or four intertwined smaller stories that seem to have no connection but end up with complete relevance to each other with so many twists."

Monday, November 09, 2015

Digital Platform for Contemporary Irish Writing

An article in the Irish Times on Saturday highlights an excellent new website and resource for students, the Digital Platform for Contemporary Irish Writing from the School of English at UCD. Margaret Kelleher, Chair of Anglo-Irish literature and Drama at UCD, explains: 

"As our team members write on our blog, this is a “platform” and not simply a website or a resource, because we intend it to act as a springboard for interested parties – writers, publishers, academics and readers – to discuss how the richness and diversity of contemporary Irish writing can best be made known at home and abroad"

So worth checking out are the pages on two of the texts we are studying for the Leaving Certificate comparative module:

and much more.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

TY Books: Green, Picoult

Sasha Cole recommends Looking for Alaska by John Green, which she has read for her Extended Essay:

"Looking for Alaska is about a teenage boy named Miles who moves to a boarding school in Alabama. He soon falls for Alaska, one of his best friends who is mysterious and has a unfortunate past. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because I think it showed what young people can get up to, how they pull pranks on each other, and relationships in a boarding school. I found I could relate to some of the characters in this book especially since I have been in a boarding school since I was 11. I would recommend this book because the characters are interesting as they all have different sides to each of them. I couldn't put this book down, it made me laugh and there was always something happening."

And Kate Bewley recommends My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult:

"I would recommend this book because it is not like my other book that I am doing, It has a twist to it. It is about a girl called Sarah  who sues her parents for the rights of her own body because she donates her organs to her sick sister Kate, but one of the twists is that  Kate asks her to because she feels bad.  And the book is about how the parents deal with being sued. I think that it is such a great book because it is very different to all the other cancer books. I would definitely recommend it."

Monday, November 02, 2015

TY books: Winman, Christie

This morning we resumed term, and Transition Year have two weeks of intense writing ahead of them for their Extended Essays. Here are two more short recommendtions based on their reading.

Sofiya Finageeva has read When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman:
"I was really impressed with this book. The author wanted to show us different sides of love, and  the different ways to express it. It shows us that friendship, family relationships, having a pet - they are all kinds of love, and we have to work on them, to make these relationships stronger. It tells us about what the friendship can be, and, in my opinion, should be. The girl's story in the book was funny, sweet and sometimes really sad. It tells us about her attempts to overcome difficulties. I was crying a few times while I was reading this book. It is a beautiful book and there are lots of things to think about. I would recommend this book".

Eva Perez Sanchez read Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie:
"Do you like detective, crime, and mystery novels? Then you should read this novel. Also, if your first language is not English, like me, then this is also a good book for you.

The book is set in England, in the early nineteen hundreds, most of the time in a train. From the moment you start to read it, you can appreciate a mysterious atmosphere, with a couple of strange glances between characters. The novel tells of an adventure with Hercule Poirot as the main character, during a trip to England by train, where he found a very strange death, with a lot of suspects with very strong alibis, and it seems that anyone could have committed the crime.

I really recommend this book because I think it is one of the best books I have ever read, and you can get into the story as if you were there. All the characters, alibis, unexpected problems, make you see what is happening. I really like the end, because you would never imagine how it would turn out. And also, the brilliance of Agatha Christie to write this kind of novels and the intelligence of Poirot just make you love this book."