Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Features

Uncomfortable home truths are revealed over wild weekend of sex, drink and drugs

By Hilary A White

Soon in danger of becoming Ireland's most talented family, the Gleesons offer up yet another of their number for widespread admiration in the arts. Now, it's the turn of 27-year-old Rory, a younger brother to big-league star Domhnall and rising fellow actor Brian.

Rockadoon Shore is a saga about young people traversing the early years of adulthood and the decisions we make in life. Gleeson presents an ensemble cast and rotates their viewpoints, chapter by chapter. Six students have ventured off to a relative's country house for a wild weekend away. Cans are cracked open and spliffs rolled as the three girls and three boys begin to establish pecking orders, crushes and chips on the shoulder over three eventful days in the lakeside home.

All personality types are exposed as the hours go by. Merc is a vain exhibitionist with a cowardly core. Lucy drinks too much, while Steph is coming around to the idea that she is not a very nice person deep down. JJ seeks pure hedonism, unlike DanDan, who is still grappling emotionally with the recent death of his ex-girlfriend.

Somewhat overseeing the throng and hosting the excursion is Cath, who has much to be worried about, it seems.

Observing all this and finding himself sucked back into cutting memories of his younger years, when the house and life in general was a place of possibility and romance, is Malachy. The elderly neighbour sold off the family farm during the boom and has little to say for himself now.

His life has seen a couple of poor decisions make all the difference, decisions not too far removed from those mulled over in the boozed-up, druggie and ragingly-hormonal minds of the young visitors. Malachy provides the punctuation marks and when he calls in to inspect the commotion on the first night, he triggers a chain reaction in the fragile group dynamic.

Gleeson's debut rolls along with its own momentum, keeping the tableaux in constant flux as he affords the power struggles and sexual dilemmas of privileged young adults more attention and analysis than they are perhaps used to outside the Young Adult genre.

For this reason Rockadoon Shore may not appeal to everyone. What does do it a great service is the ballast provided by Malachy's character. In him, Gleeson locates a craggy counterpoint to the young lives.

Belfast Telegraph


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