With condoms now being made available to children young as thirteen, coming of age stories like Superbad will soon have certificate ratings higher than the age of the actors who star in them. While this decision will have some questionable ramifications, as the tired format of teenagers in search of sex and alcohol grows wearier with each release, at least it may invigorate this tedious and overused genre. Martin O’Neill elaborates on how his new production of Owen McGuire’s E. avoids these clichés by adding an ungraciousness to the storyline of this much produced style.
“We’ve injected different elements into it and the more we work on story and characters, it’s less The Inbetweeners and a lot more brutal, rough and about exposing Scottish maleness,” says O’Neill. While he admits that a play about three lads on New Years Eve will always have similarities with The Inbetweeners, “while it opens in that style, it’s a more dramatic, more raw way of presenting this type of story.”
For O’Neill, the real storytelling comes not in the pursuit of hedonistic pleasures, but in revealing the true nature of each character as the play progresses. “It’s about exposing the characters, who all have their own bravados,” so though they may be separated by their individual vices, they’re joined by their coarse Scottish identity. However, “the roughness and the brutality of it is used ironically, it’s parodying the typical Gregory Burke play, you know ‘we’re rough Scottish men but we have feelings.’” The internal journey of the characters isn’t limited to the text but influences the whole production. “It’s sort of messing with the theatricality element of the show, one character will start to interact with a person in the audience,” depicting the continual break down of characteristics and emotions present in everyone.
“It’s also about exploring the landscape of Edinburgh, the romantic ideals; the castle, the royal mile. It’s essentially about dealing with this romantic setting but with really unromantic characters,” O’Neill muses. This isn’t a concept O’Neill feels is limited to the characters of E. but is true of many Scottish city dwellers, pragmatic people enclosed in amorous surroundings. Adding to this romanticism is an inspiration by the music of Edinburgh, “It came about from listening to bands like Meursault and records released by Song, By Toad and looking at the themes of them. It could be made into a joke that it’s all just whiny Scottish people singing,” O’Neill quips. But, there is more to gather from the music of Edinburgh than a soundtrack; “The music always deals with the subject of not feeling a part of something but still feeling that sense of belonging,” another theme that is also reflected in E.
By using stylised physical theatre and precise stage combat, O’Neill’s production hopes to be a show that incorporates dramatic visual performances with an emotive script influenced by Edinburgh that will “use theatricality, audience interaction, physical theatre and live music to create a collage inspired by the city of its setting.”
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