Theatre review: 'Snug' brings theatre to the pub
John McCarthy's sparse and intimate musical unfolds in two of Cork city's best-loved pubs writes Pádraig O’ Connor.
If a young woman sits on her own for long enough in public, chances are, at some point a man is going to start talking to her. Sometimes, he might even start singing. For better or worse, this is almost an unwritten rule of the world we live in and forms the starting point of ‘Snug’, the latest play from Cork based theatre artist John McCarthy.
In this short but very charming production, set in two of Cork’s most unique pubs, Maureen’s and Callanans, two strangers meet and play out their chance encounter entirely through song.
A young woman, whose name we never learn, played by Galway native Emily Donoghue, sits quietly in the corner of the bar with a drink, but seems somewhat distressed and distracted by the phone placed on the table in front of her. Meanwhile a man, also nameless, played by McCarthy, steals a few initial, innocent glances at her and picking up his guitar, decides to engage her in conversation/song.
Under the direction of Katrina Foley, this production keeps everything simple; from the plain costumes both characters wear, to the slight change in lighting at the start of the show and all this does is allow two very accomplished singers and guitarists-both with really beautiful voices which meld very well together- showcase their musical talents.
The story is quirky but sparse, which is fine, as this is an easily digestible, feel good piece of theatre, one which is at its essence, light-hearted in nature. Although the young woman is initially hesitant to engage with the man, she eventually picks up her guitar and gives him a few crumbs by way of a response. When they both find a shared common ground, she begins to soften and the audience get a better understanding of why she is feeling so forlorn.
Anyone familiar with the American singer Raul Midón might have an inclination as to this mutual talent O’ Donoghue and McCarthy both exhibit, but it is an absolute treat to witness it in person and no exaggeration to say it left everyone in the room with a smile on their face.
There is only one real prop of note, which is a peculiar and unexpected anagram of the word Snug and its appearance leads the two characters to agree to an unusual pact as to how to bring their meeting to a close. Coming in at around thirty minutes in duration, the play is over before you know it and the feeling you are left with at the end is akin to having eaten a really nice starter, but left wanting just a little bit more.
Snug runs until this weekend. All shows have been sold out.
Pádraig O’ Connor is a writer based in Cork City.