Fairytaleheart is a play written by Philip Ridley and directed by Richard Croxford. It is produced by Replay Productions. Replay Productions is one of the fastest growing theatre companies in Northern Ireland. It aims to produce plays which have relevance to the issues faced by young people in Northern Ireland today. Fairytaleheart is one of those plays. Fairytaleheart is set in an abandoned community centre on a dark night. It stars two up and coming young actors Bernadette Brown (Kirsty) and Kevin Breen (Gideon). These two young characters are both facing problems at home and seek out the community centre as a refuge.

It is the night of Kirsty’s 15th birthday party and her father is about to announce his engagement to his new girlfriend. However Kirsty’s mother died 2 years ago and she is resentful of this new happiness in her father’s life. She feels his new girlfriend is taking him away from her. Kirsty seeks the community centre as a refuge as her mother used to work here. Gideon too faces problems with his parents. His father walked out on him and his mother when he was young and his mother now has a new boyfriend, the caretaker of the community centre. Gideon resents this boyfriend also as he feels he is taking his mother away from him.

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Over the past few weeks Gideon has been creating his own fantasy world in the abandoned community centre using art materials- paint and cardboard. He goes there to try and forget his problems. At first the two characters are very wary of each other and speak rudely and defensively about their reasons for being there. As the play unfolds we learn about each character’s background and problems. Both characters speak about their problems as if they are not theirs and make up a fantasy world where they tell us about them using different characters.

Their dislike of each other gradually turns into friendship as they share secrets and problems with each other. The climatic ending of the story is very effective; Gideon and Kirsty have solved their problems, have become friends and are about to kiss when the lights go out. Bernadette Brown plays the character of Kirsty excellently in Fairytaleheart. She gets inside the characters emotions brilliantly and you feel yourself drawn into the story whilst watching her. Her facial expressions capture the moment of the play.

Bernadette Brown’s portrayal of Kirsty is believable and realistic and she is a very skilled actress. Kirsty is a character of many dimensions and she is very emotional. Brown shows this to us in her actions and body language. Look out for Bernadette Brown; I am sure that we will see a lot of her in the future! Another rising young talent in this play is Kevin Breen who plays the character Gideon. Kevin Breen is a truly great actor who brings his own twist and originality to Gideon. He is very humorous in his portrayal and delivers some of the funniest lines in the play with great skill and enthusiasm.

Gideon also has a quiet caring side to him and Kevin gets this side of him completely right using his excellent acting skills. Breen is an actor on the move! The interaction of the two characters was very believable. They moved well around the set and there was never any awkwardness in their reactions to each other. You truly believed the storyline regarding their relationship. The mood of the play remained quite light throughout although the play dealt with several heavy issues. These issues were dealt with particularly well and sensitively so as to not offend anybody.

However if the mood of the play started to feel heavy there was always a bit of comedy to be had. The pace and flow of the play moved naturally and there was never a feeling that the actors were rushing to get their lines out. The director’s approach to the play therefore was evidently extremely good as the play felt natural, just as if a story was being told in front of you. The costumes for this play were excellent. They encapsulated the characters perfectly and made the actors all round delivery of their character more believable.

The lighting was dramatic in all the right places. Several candles were used in the play and these set the mood very well. Sound effects were used very little, once or twice to show dimming of the torches. The set was amazing. It was imaginative and exciting. It was astounding what you can do with materials that most people would throw out and on stage we experienced the fantasy world you could create. I enjoyed this play very much. It was humorous, dramatic, well directed, well written and well acted. There were many issues raised in this play.

Issues such as friendships, family relationships and peoples fears and feelings. It made me realize that there is light at the end of the tunnel if something is going wrong. You just have to look at things from a different perspective. If I were directing this play I would have used more sound effects to create the mood. Other than that this play was fantastic and a production well worth seeing. I would give it a very high recommendation for anyone to see it, all ages. I can guarantee you will come away from it realizing your problems are much smaller by comparison.