If you thought witnessing a muzzle-wearing werewolf do meditation, a Just Dance routine of ‘The Ketchup Song’ in lieu of an apology and a scene dedicated to sniffing the contents of a toilet bowl, was impossible to weave into one cohesive piece of theatre – think again. The Last Wolf in Ireland, written and directed by UCD’s Rachel Thornton, sees werewolf Noah (Will Farren) and his hilarious best friend Colm (Jack Donoghue) put their friendship to the test on one of the most inconvenient nights of the year – the night of the full moon. Noah’s plan to have a contained and calm transformation is upended once Colm arrives at his apartment uninvited. A broken doorknob and multiple packets of liquorice laces later, Colm gets trapped inside with his friend and so ensues a transformation night that would give Twilight’s Jacob a run for his money.
Masculinity, male relationships and family are some of the themes which are explored in the hour and a half production. While there were some poignant moments of vulnerability witnessed on stage, especially from Noah during his transformation, these moments did not result in the spectators leaving on a note of sadness, as the comedic writing paired with the even funnier performances kept the balance in order. This impromptu sleepover between two friends sees not only a physical transformation occur but is also the turning point for a friendship. Thornton wanted this play to depict platonic male relationships in a way that is not frequently witnessed in theatre. This is executed as the spectators are invited to watch Noah and Colm break down their walls over the countdown to midnight. They get comfortable enough to sniff each other’s urine, meaning they did not have much further to go to start unveiling traumatic moments of their past!
The set design supported the beginning of the play with just the essentials on stage: a couch, a bathroom, a troublesome door and a radiator (which I fear would not have held back a werewolf despite the chains). With Colm and his Mary Poppinsesque bag bringing fun into the otherwise drab space. By the end of the play, the stage was a painting that told us of the night without words. There were props expected at a sleepover, like a mountain of pizza boxes and empty beer cans, as well as the evidence of the not so normal portion of the night – a shredded couch, its stuffing everywhere and Noah’s furry werewolf vest on the floor. The passing of time was shown to the spectators via projected timestamps on the wall, changes in lighting and interspersed with some guitar tracks. Resulting in a sensory trip for the spectator that gradually builds up to the intense moment of Noah’s shift to his werewolf form, where Will Farren impresses with his physical theatre abilities.
UCD’s Dramsoc ran Thornton’s The Last Wolf in Ireland from February 21st-25th at 1pm. If you did not get the chance to see the show, there will be a preview of the play coming later this month as the show has been nominated for an Irish Student Drama Award, alongside Dramsoc’s other productions of The Beauty Queen of Leenane and We Dance. To find out more information closer to the time, keep up to date with the Dramsoc’s social media platforms!
Leah Commandeur – Arts & Lifestyle Writer