Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff

Wed 15–Sat 18 June

At first glance, Séan Tyrone seems like your average coming of age narrative. Indeed, all the key elements of such a genre are there as Jack O’Brien travels from Country Tyrone to south Wales with a view to follow in his father’s footsteps. Yet, unlike a simple Bildungsroman, this is not a tale of a central character navigating his place in a stable world. Complicating the narrative journey from naïve to experienced, in Mark Ryan’s intriguing play it is not just the protagonist’s identity which is elusive, making for a alluringly unsettling production.

In this tale about reclaiming a lost sense of self, we are led by three nightmare beings – or Grotesques – whose identities emerge, fluctuate and dissolve in a deeply uncanny manner. Dark, mischievous and taunting, the Grotesques power the narrative, delivering a believable story in a most supernatural, creative way.

Fittingly for a work about the journey through adolescence, these Grotesques also represent the thrill and danger of the unknown. ‘There’s a big thing about going from innocence to experience.’ explains Robert Harper, who plays one of the three Grotesques in this adaptation. Articulating how these non-human beings corner and direct Jack, Harper stresses their complicated and fiercely abstract role in the protagonist’s development.

With characters such as this, it is not surprising that to Harper and his team ‘there was never a moment where we thought we could do this naturalistically’. Working with playful language and characterisations, Company of Sirens pledge to bring the creativity of the story out through video projection, live music and physical theatre. Inspired by Classical literature and vaudeville in equal measure, the company promises to deliver this fascinating story from within a strange yet relevant multi-layered dream world.

But it’s not just Jack who is set to travel this month. Company of Sirens are set to take Séan Tyrone to Galway in a creative journey which will enrich the story by bringing it full circle, right back to the playwright’s roots. For more information, and to support the company through pledges, visit

Tickets: £8-£12. Info: 029 2031 1050 /

first published in Buzz magazine


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