On the 15 and the 16 of March, third year drama students here in NUI Galway performed what was the last play many of them would partake in until the end of their degree. A funny, emotional and musical powerhouse, Aristophanes’ The Frogs shows the eager potential of NUI Galway’s drama students.
Directed by Marianne Kennedy, The Frogs follows the story of Dionysus and his slave Xanthias as they travel to the underworld in search of a playwright that can bring peace to the people. The drama students perform Kenneth McLeish’s adaptation of the classic play, as his version speaks to a more contemporary audience. As the director Ms Kennedy said of the choice on Instagram;
“The student ensemble has reinvigorated this ancient Greek text, designing all aspects of the show themselves. At the heart of this play are the questions: What is the function of art? Can it uplift? Should it inspire? Should it speak to the everyday experience? What is the worth of art in times of crisis? We are also mindful of the contemporary context of the effects of war as we explore this play set at the end of a 30-year conflict between Athens and Sparta.”
Performed in The O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway was blessed with wonderful performances. There were stand out displays from Dylan Maguire and Saorla Fenton who played Dionysus and Xanthias respectively. They both carried the first act with their witty dialogue and at times slapstick comedic effects.
The music was another standout in this play. James Boylan and Hannah Cogan composed the music for the drama piece which kept the audience either on edge or actively engaged with the story as different musical themes played for each character. A favourite of mine was the first musical piece, where Dionysus is on the boat to the underworld and the frogs all chime in on a musical number. This aptly set the mood for the rest of the play.
It is more than clear the love and eagerness that was put into this performance and all the drama students played a huge part in the production of the play that I wish I could name them all here. It was evident the cast will remember this performance in years to come, as Director Marianne Kennedy confirmed it has been an “inspirational process.” This was plain to see as the cast were bathed in a besiege of roses upon their final bow of their final performance of the NUI Galway academic year 2021/2022.