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Temptress by Philip St John

Writing.ie | Stage

Temptress by Philip St John – New Theatre – review by Áine McKenna

Oct 28th – Nov 7th @ 7.30pm
Tickets: €15 (€12 conc.)

“Temptress is not a conventional ghost story, like my previous plays, it is an examination of a hidden world existing alongside our everyday one”, Philip St John

Speckintime and High Seas Productions presents this dark comedy Written by international award winning writer Philip St John. The story follows two troubled men, from two very different walks of life, who are forced together through a mutual, reckless yearning.

The scene opens on an old sitting room, absurdly battered with fragments of sentimental bits and pieces strewn here and there, ripped wallpaper clings to the walls, revealing layers of many pasts. A man wrapped in an old blanket, Noel – appears fraught with personal torments. Noel preludes to an ominous female presence, which he indicates is the cause of his discomfort. He appears feeble and disengaged at first introduction – A clever deceit that propels the second half of the play into its critical turning point.

Enter Pete – standing proud in his business-man attire who describes himself as ‘A Rock’, arrogance incarnate and supposed saviour to Pete, deposed by the mysterious Foundation. Pete’s character is layered in satire, a clandestine cover for his underlying concerns- battling marital issues and the pressures of everyday family life.

Then there is the ‘other’ character, never seen but always felt – The Temptress. She is the epitome of carnal desires– the bored, ignored housewife, a Mill’s and Boon anti-heroine. The presence of the Temptress is tangible; you can feel the hairs stand on end at the back of your neck and feel the energy she exudes pulsating from Pete and Noel.

There is another significant theme running through the centre of this piece – the idea of suicide as a way out of the daily drudgery. Philip presents this idea to us from a light, casual perspective – unfortunately a view most embraced by today’s de-sensitized society.

In a challenging exposé, The Temptress relies heavily upon the performance of Matthew and Paul to deliver its final message. Ultimately, we relate to either Noel or Pete, the wealthy hipster or the working class man. Two very different lives, yet intertwined by a desperate need for a release. A feeling we’ve all had a dalliance with in the current economic climate. What appears to be an unconventional ghost story, evolves into something entirely personal to each individual’s interpretation.


Matthew O’Brien (Noel) trained at the University of Wales in Swansea. Most recently played (Alan) in Jack Harte’s the LANGUAGE OF THE MUTE (The New Theatre). Theatre credits include Neil Pearson’s adaptation of Tom Barry’s GUERILLA DAYS IN IRELAND (Olympia Theatre & Cork’s Everyman Theatre), (Lysander) in Mouth on Fire’s production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, (Lord Haddo) in Spekintime’s production of DEEDS OF DECEIT, GROSS INDECENCY: THE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE and also (Ivan Vassilevitch) in Spekintime’s production of THE ART OF WEDLOCK.

Screen credits- Greek Director Yorgos Lanthimos’s Feature Film THE LOBSTER, which has recently gone on national and worldwide cinema release, (Willard) in TechnoWolf’s IFB Signatures Short BLIGHT directed by Brian Deane, who also directed Matthew in his award-winning short VOLKSWAGON JOE, Showtime’s PENNYDREADFUL – Season 2, History’s VIKINGS – SEASON 3, Whim Productions new Feature Film SOULSMITH, in which Matthew plays the lead, (Ed Smith), A DANGEROUS FORTUNE, a television drama for ZDF German TV, and Lachlainn McKenna’s Short Film POCKETS.

Paul Kealyn (Pete) This year saw Paul play (Pozzo) in WAITING FOR GODOT at the SOTA Drama Theatre in Singapore, a joint production between AC Productions and ABA Productions Hong Kong. This followed his previous engagements with AC Productions which include William Shakespeare’s TIMON OF ATHENS (Timon), Harold Pinter’s ONE FOR THE ROAD (Nicholas) in Pinter X 4, TWELFTH NIGHT (Sir Toby Belch) and THE ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF A ANARCHIST (Bertezzo).

Paul is cast in RTE’s 2016 flagship television drama REBELLION which wrapped filming in Dublin recently directed by Aku Louhimies. A native Dublin actor Paul’s other screen credits include HBO’s GAME OF THRONES, VIKINGS, the BBC Television Drama RIPPERSTREET, RTE Television series ROY2 and DAMO & IVOR 2. More recently he graduated the prestigious Masters in Creative Writing at Trinity College, a renowned programme founded by the poet Brendan Kennelly.


Philip St. John is a writer of fiction and drama. His short stories have been published in Ireland and internationally and shortlisted for The Hennessy Literary Awards and The Bristol Short Story Award. His play Maxine(2011) won an award from the International Playwright Forum and has been translated into German and Filipino. It was also shortlisted for The Kings Cross Award at The Courtyard Theatre, London. The Sylvia is the first production of his work on stage. He was awarded Literature Bursaries by the Arts Council in 2010 and 2011, and an Artslinks Bursary in 2012.

Director: Matthew Ralli

Producer: Melissa Nolan

Set Design: Lisa Krugel

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