Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is masterful in its guise as a children’s fantasy, political satire and cultural parody. Since its publication at the beginning of the eighteenth century, Gulliver has met many adaptations. Conall Morrison’s production manipulates a selection of Swift’s works including Mechanical Operation of the Spirit, The Criminals in the Late Minstry and A Tale of a Tub to present a fresh look at Gulliver’s voyage from Lilliput to Houyhnhnms.
Associated with 60 youth theatres, the NAYD (National Association of Youth Drama in Ireland) presents members with the opportunity to grace the stages of Ireland’s biggest theatres under the leadership and mentorship of the country’s most esteemed industry professionals. With the participation of a number of established theatre practioners including Conor Linehan, Liam Doona and John Comiskey, young actors from youth theatres across Ireland are given the opportunity to taste the professional stage, performing at both the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and the Everyman in Cork.
Following a grueling audition process which began at the beginning of the summer, 16 young actors were chosen to make up the cast. Hailing from every corner of the country, the aspiring cast are thrilled with the experience of being involved in the NAYD’s annual production. This is very apparent on stage, as the actors dart and dash across the set with enormous energy and agility.Liam Doona’s set and costume design is clever and easily convertible to maximise the extent of the action on stage.
It is indesputible that these talented young actors represent the future of Irish theatre, however the production itself was not enjoyable . Swift’s story is condensed into an hour long flurry of adventure and exploration. We follow Gulliver as he morphs from ‘man mountain’ to marionette, from giant to lilliputian. Despite the apparent aptitude of the young cast there are moments when the production becomes scattered and chaotic, while the emphasis placed on Gulliver’s bodily functions is excessive and grotesque at times.The story is reduced to its most primitive layer in Morrison’s elementary interpretation.
Disregarding the production itself, NAYD’s mission is a worthy one in its recognition of the wealth of young talent this country harbours.