Mouth to Mouth reminds me of those nested Russian dolls - rather than proceeding linearly from scene to scene, the play is structured as a series of nested flashbacks, one within the other. Whereas in film-making flashbacks have been so heavily overused as to be dull and irritating, in a play they're something of a novelty. It's a refreshing narrative structure and works well for the story being told.
The story itself is a mix of tragedy and comedy, principally concerned with the romantic (or at least sexual) relationships of the characters. The play explores quite a range of concepts in this respect. It would only spoil the play if I went into detail - I'll just say that there's much more to the relationships than the typical "rom-com" material so frequently seen in both films and plays.
The play takes a little time to get into its stride. This is perhaps because of its unusual structure: Mouth to Mouth is most intense and most enjoyable during the flashback-within-a-flashback at the centre of the play. That series of scenes is a delight: revealing, varied, and well-paced. Whereas the 'outer layers' of the play are slower scenes with no more than two characters, these central scenes benefit greatly from the presence of secondary characters. (It is no criticism of Nick Devlin, playing the main character Frank, to suggest that Frank is a self-centred and at times annoying individual: almost certainly the least attractive character in the play.)
For comic value, in her professional debut Sophia Cadogan steals the show with her portrayal of stereotypical dumb-blonde Cornelia. (Beauty and talent are a powerful combination.) Also making his professional debut is Ian Armstrong (Philip); as debuts go, this must be a tough role, and he handles it well. Both of these actors have come directly from the involvement of the theatre company (Crooked House) with Kildare Youth Theatre. They're clearly doing something right.
Project Arts Centre have a knack for picking good shows: Mouth to Mouth is both funny and at times discomforting.
Mouth to Mouth runs until 4th September. Also running until then in Project Arts Centre is The Colleen Bawn.
(1) Left to Right: Dennis, Philip, Laura, Frank (2) Cornelia and Roger, (3) Laura and Frank