Saoirse Rafferty reviews NUIG student Alice Keane's production of 'Gee Whiz!'
“Geeeeee WHIZ! Why not enjoy it with a cool and refreshing coca cola?” I cringed a tiny bit every time these corny lines were repeated throughout the play. At the beginning of this play I tried my best to be critical, but from the beginning of the play I loved it. From the moment the lights shone on stage and I heard ‘Go Johnny Go’ by Chuck Berry I fell in love with the play written by MA student at NUI Galway, Alice Keane.
I entered into a world of black and white, literally. The cast were spray painted grey and dressed in black and white; blending in to the stage set. I was amazed at how brilliant the characters were and how much effort must have been put into the production. Glasses of whipped cream were convincing enough to make me crave a milkshake, and the Jukebox added to the diner scene.
The play was based in an American black and white 50’s television show called ‘Gee Whiz’, a world where characters must perfect the show re – runs for 'Gee Whiz', a world of constant routine. That is, until three Irish teens from a ‘colour’ television programme called 'Rollies' (similar to English programme 'Skins'), end up in the Gee Whiz TV station.
The main character ‘Gee’ (Patrick Conneely) was the star of his own television show and did an outstanding performance in the play to portray his enormous ego. Anyone who has the ability to show and hold a range of facial emotions without blinking is definitely an actor. However, the star of this show was Katie Lernihan who played Linda. She was truly wonderful and nowhere near as annoying as Missy (Kate O’Mahony) who fainted at the sound of the word ‘drink’.
There was something brilliant that caught my eye about each unique character; whether it be the Author TV (authority of TV) played by Stephen Mc Ginty and Jack Fitzgerald, or Marty who loves milk (Oisin Mc Donagh) or even the ability for the audience to feel Missy’s irritating personality.
The contrast between the Irish and American characters was overly exaggerated but quite humorous. Fist pumping vs Jiving, Rollies vs Milkshakes, colour vs non-colour, the list goes on. The audience loved it, with a small personal stage the actors really engaged with the audience. Alice Keane’s clever storyline reminded me of the hit Disney movie Wreck it Ralph, a film where characters have a similar ability to move from one screen to the next. A storyline that is definitely far easier on film than on stage.
The play had hilarious inner monologues, punny jokes and a grumpy old hunchback man who mirrored a typical traditional elder. The facial expressions kept by Old Man Jenkins (Sean Harvey) were superb, I couldn’t help but laugh anytime I saw his face. The Irish characters made the play with the private jokes, constant cursing and idiotic statements that we could all relate to. However, there were hidden traits throughout the play that suggested it were made for a young modern audience; ‘dem hips doh’, ‘Got Milk?’ or even the mentioning of Game of Thrones. These were the jokes that made the audience laugh out loud, literally.
This is a play about the importance of change, how sometimes trying something new is better than doing the same thing every day; even if you mess up in the process. The Irish teens give the Americans guidance and try to show them how there is a life outside of their television personas. As stated by the play writer Alice Keane, everything was definitely ‘exciting!’