It’s been more than a year since I’d been to Dublin’s Theatre Upstairs. And the first thing that came to my mind as I entered the building today was “Why hadn’t I come back earlier?”.
Funnily enough, the last performance I saw was Katie McCann´s adaptation of The Little Match Girl in late 2013. The Theatre Upstairs itself and productions were very different back then: smaller (much smaller!), the space was teeny tiny, with minimum sound/light effects, decorations or props. As fas as I remember, actually, there has been no props whatsoever on the stage.
As for the play itself, The Little Match Girl (which was a part of three Christmas’ Yule Tales), I loved it. It was extremely well done. Katie’s acting was at a very high standard and the adaptation itself was very original.
So last week, when I saw that Katie was presenting her second piece, I couldn’t miss it.
“Hollow Ground” is one story told by two different people: a brother and sister. It’s a very difficult play, to be honest. Very emotional. Very tragic. It’s a tragedy within a tragedy. A story of a broken family and of what’s left of it.
The brother is played by the very talented Rex Ryan, who gives a very memorable performance of a disturbed man-boy Graham. Graham, now grown up, struggles to fit in. He is different and he is being punished for it.
The sister is played by Katie McCann herself. Just like her brother, she is struggling in her every day life. But she’s a bit luckier, she is the one who managed to get away from her childhood home and from her past. She is able to have some sort of a “normal” life. I simply loved Katie’s brilliant ability to switch characters at a blink of an eye. So many different, invisible, characters became so alive and real.
Hollow ground has been directed by Theatre Upstair’s Artistic Director Karl Shiels. Shiels also directed another play that had been showed earlier this year in The Project Arts: Leper+Chip. Even though Hallow Ground and Leper+Chip are two very different plays, they are very much like each other at the same time. One can definitely identify a certain pattern there. So if you liked Leper+Chip, you’ll love Hollow Ground.
As for the set: simple but very accurate for the play. The set is so smart that you only realise it some half-way through the play. And just like in Leper+Chip the lights are very important for the perception of the show. So, do expect some flashing lights from time to time.
Hollow Ground runs in Theatre Upstairs till March, 21st. If you book for an 1pm matinee performance, you will also be able to get some light lunch in the theatre itself, which is completely complementary. For more info or to book tickets: