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  • Dress Circle Reviews

Guinea Pigs - Review

The show is called Guinea Pigs, asking why young men on national service in the 1950s were used as Guinea Pigs when nuclear bombs were being tested. The show opens with scenes of those tests. The production focuses on a family whose lives continue to be impacted by this act.

The story mainly focuses on Coral, the daughter of one of the men impacted. She’s an outspoken teenager in the 80s and is learning to find her own voice but also learning how complicated life is and that moral questions don’t always come with an easy answer.

She is filled with mixed emotions regarding her views about nuclear weapons and war and what she views as her fathers involvement in that. It’s a complicated situation like many things in life and the show leans into that, touching on many topics. It’s interesting how many if the things in the 80s that were thought of as radical at the time seem so obvious now, such as freeing Mandela. It makes you wonder how the future will judge today.

The production does show that the men impacted were campaigning to get an apology from the government but it is a background issue, with the show choosing to make the daughters views the focal point of the show and it is all the better for it as it is the family relationships that drives the story and emotion. But the show does highlight the impact this past had on their lives.

The three actors, Elin Doyle as the daughter Coral, Jonny Emmett as her father and Caron Kehoe as Coral’s aunt, are each excellent in their roles and the relationships between them are real and nuanced. Special credit goes to Caron Kehoe who additionally takes on several other auxiliary roles and you can tell from the moment she enters the stage which character it is. A very difficult thing to do.

The characters are well devised through both the actors portrayal and through a well written script with great dialogue and the superb direction draws out the emotion of the show. The direction allows the show to move at pace which means those quieter moments are more powerful. And a fantastic soundtrack of carefully chosen 80s music punctuates the show throughout.

At one point Coral gives a speech that feels as pertinent today, if not more, than it did then. She asks what can you do and what will you do? In fact, the show asks a lot of questions but most importantly it’s full of heart that really brings the audience along. The show is an absolute gem. See it while you can.

Tickets are available here until October 8th 2022.

Rating: 5 Stars


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