The Cork Midsummer Festival is described in the publicity as a festival of the senses and the youth production FML at The Everyman Palace, despite its coy title was mostly a Glee without dancing treat for the senses as it told multiple stories through the real and imagined scripted lives of 15 young people, using stage and video to make an emotional and educational point about suicide in Ireland.
The actual title of the piece is ‘Fuck My Life’ and I wonder why they use the abbreviation when I suppose they wanted the shock value of it. In pre-production it was called F*rg*t My Lunch. In the programme the production company actually include the comments of two original cast members who dropped out. One girl resented the use of graphic language some of the cast were using on and offstage.
A Belgian team devised and directed the work, through interview and improvisation but the finished work is very theatrical and modern and has a series of pointed messages about growing up in and anxious uncertain world.
Despite the expected crude, rude and bad language, two words came across as really shocking. Suicide and Ugly. And if at times the monologues and dialogues had shock value, there were lots of emotive moments and maybe too many Glee-style resolutions. They even had a wonderful Glee-style androgynous character that was endearing. Robert Gould was terrific in this part. Charlie Crowley as the student economist who wanted to deal in facts, numbers and statistics was excellent as was Colette Scarrif-Lawlor who had such a happy excessive belief in being happy. Lydia Fischer-Dooley was tender and thought provoking and Jamie Lyons O’Herlihy and Callum Burke-O’Driscoll explored gay themes beautifully. There was a scene where they had to strip and for a moment I thought, as did the audience, that they would go all the way.
Pol Heyvaert directed with imagination and sensitivity and The Everyman Palace are to be congratulated on taking this production rather than it being shunted off to a secondary venue with less facilities and far less profile.