Alone It Stands, currently playing at Ensemble Theatre, is a theatrical gem that brilliantly encapsulates a historic moment in Irish sports, all through the lens of playwright John Breen’s dynamic storytelling. This play is not just for rugby enthusiasts; it’s a human story interwoven with humour, emotion and a deep sense of community.
The plot centres around the legendary 1978 rugby match in Limerick, where the Munster team took on the almighty New Zealand All Blacks. This event is more than just a game; it becomes a backdrop to various personal stories that range from the hilarious to the profoundly touching. Breen does not merely recount a sports event; he delves into the lives of those connected to it, creating a tapestry of narratives that resonate with universal themes of triumph, loss, and camaraderie.
Director Janine Watson brings a remarkable vision to this production. Her direction is both agile and thoughtful, managing to seamlessly navigate over 60 characters on a stage with minimalistic design. Watson’s skill in orchestrating this complex narrative without losing the audience’s engagement is commendable.
The set and costume design by Emma White are deceptively simple yet effective. The astroturf stage brings an immediate sense of place, anchoring the action firmly within the rugby field’s perimeters. The costumes, two sets of rugby uniforms, provide time and action to the characters. This simplicity in design allows the audience’s imagination to fill in the gaps, guided by the powerful performances on stage.
Speaking of performances, the cast, comprising Ray Chong Nee, Skyler Ellis, Alex King, and Anthony Taufa, displays exceptional versatility. They switch between roles with such fluidity and precision that it’s easy to forget the cast is only six members strong. Each actor brings a unique energy to the stage, adeptly handling the swift transitions from humour to pathos.
Tristan Black and Briallen Clarke deserve special mention for their standout performances. With his commanding stage presence, Black brings a depth to his characters that is both engaging and emotionally resonant. On the other hand, Clarke displays a remarkable range, shifting between roles with an ease that is both impressive and captivating.
Alone It Stands is a theatrical experience that manages to be both entertaining and poignant. It is a testament to the power of storytelling in capturing a moment in time and its impact on a community. This production at the Ensemble Theatre is a great achievement – it entertains, moves, and reminds us of the shared human experiences that transcend the boundaries of a rugby field.
– The other Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig is an international performer and has established himself as a trusted theatre specialist on the Sydney Arts Scene. While he understands the technical side of theatre, Dan writes for the everyday theatregoer (unlike some of those more prominent publications). When not in the audience, he loves to travel the world trying new gin. Follow him on all the socials @talldancraig
Alone It Stands runs for two hours (including 20 min interval) and plays at the Ensemble Theatre through 02 March 2024. Tickets are available through the Ensemble Theatre Box office.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were guests of Kabuku Public Relations
Image credit: Prudence Upton.