Theatrical: ‘Well that’s what I heard’

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For my last theatrical outing of the year, I went to the Project Arts Centre this afternoon for the matinee performance of ‘Well that’s what I heard’ by the Breadline Collective. Written and directed by Thommas Kane Byrne (who I’d seen acting in ‘Dublin will show you how’ at the Complex in April), this show originally ran in 2018 at Theatre Upstairs before its revival in the Cube space at the Project this week.

Set in the unlovely confines of the Blessed Virgin Commnuity School on Sean McDermott Street in inner city Dublin (my neighbourhood in fact) the three student queens of this tough school are Zara Walsh (Ciara Ivie) – the most popular girl in the school; Kelis (Courtney Black) – whose parents watch her every move; and Amber (Ericka Roe) – the spoiled daughter of a wealthy local drug dealer.

These three long to escape the dreary confines of their current existence. And they plan to achieve this by becoming Instagram stars. Obsessed with their number of followers their lives are lived through an Insta filter.

The only fly in the ointment is that they don’t actually like each other. They are forced together however as their union makes them powerful. In this world social hierarchy is all important. They live in dread of having their reputations ruined by exposure on Tell.com (a social media platform similar to Snapchat I guess). That is precisely what happens to Zara who is snapped getting jiggy with her boyfriend Cameron and the image ricochets around the school.

Who could be behind this? And how come despite being the subject of a scandal,  her Instagram followers are increasing.

I’ve been a huge fan of high school, American movies since my teenage years ‘Some kind of wonderful’; ‘The Breakfast Club’; ‘Sixteen Candles; ‘Catholic Boys;’ ‘Mean Girls’ and the pinnacle of teen brilliance ‘Heathers’.

‘Well that’s what I heard’ is a fantastic show that might be loosely inspired by ‘Heathers’ – the tale of the evil clique of Heathers and their unwilling sidekick Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder – possibly the only woman I have ever had a crush on) who unwillingly starts mass murdering her classmates. Unlike ‘Heathers’ there is no ‘nice girl’ like Veronica in ‘Well that’s what I heard’.

The three characters on stage in this play are vile – backstabbing; venal; cruel; manipulative; bullying. And utterly hilarious. There’s no social message; no redemption at the Blessed Virgin School. The girls are villains and proud of it.

Similar in style to ‘Murder of Crows’ (by Lee Coffey, which also played originally at Theatre Upstairs) the three characters are on stage together at all times, in a triangular formation; with the character speaking coming to the fore. Each plays a number of other minor characters.

The actors are all very talented and convincing in their portrayal of these horrible people – with special praise reserved for Ericka Roe whose facial expressions creased me up.

‘Well that’s what I heard’ was a fantastic end to my year of theatre. I’d highly recommend you see this play – although you’d want to be fast.  The last show of this run is at 7.45pm tonight.

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