Tadpoles, written and directed by Sam Ford, Aoife Leonard and Claire O’Reilly, tackles the poignant everyman condition of growing up. Through a series of monologues, five children of varying ages recall pivotal moments that precipitate their loss of innocence and tumultuous journey into adolescence; birth, control of bodily functions, sexual desire, failed ambition and religious/parental disillusionment. The Foetus’s development from fertilisation to full gestation acts as the framework of the play; each stage of growth delivered between a monologue, climaxing and ending the production with the impending birth of The Foetus.
In spite of the less than fluid group chemistry and a suspicion that at times they may have been affected by the reaction of the audience, the cast were committed and competent. Each actor delivered individually and commanded genuine laughs from the audience for the duration of the play. Míde Ní Ghríofa handled the least sympathetic and slightly annoying role of The Foetus well, through her zealous and comedic performance. Robert Shaw as bed wetting Tommy was poignantly affecting. Áine Connell humourously convinced as Sadhbh relaying her uncertain descent into adolescence and sexual desire. Tara Louise Morrison’s performance as Beth, who sees her faith in the powers above rocked in the confession box, resonated with all of us who have felt the sharp disappointment of finding out that the Easter Bunny does not exist. However, the stand out performance was Ronan Cashell’s compellingly gawky performance as Louis, who realises to his dismay he simply is not very good at sport. The awkwardness and wit of an eleven year old boy is conveyed perfectly in this scene.
At times the play seemed to be lacking in a polished finish; slightly out-of-sync torch shining in the communion scene, mis-timed whispers, and chanting that drowned out the speaking protagonist. Aside from that the play was technically sound and convincing; scene changes were fluid, props and puppets cleverly utilised and lighting on cue.
Tadpoles remarkably manages to steer clear of obvious clichés one might expect from a freshers play about the awkward experiences of growing up. The script remains relevant to a college audience. In this way the directors and actors succeed in ensuring that the production is simultaneously funny, moving and relatable, revealing the significant potential of those involved it its production and execution.