Category Archives: Pan Pan Theatre Company

Project Arts Center: George Bush and Children

george-bush-and-children-by-pan-pan-and-dick-walsh-as-part-of-tiger-dublin-fringe-at-project

In the best traditions of Pan Pan Theatre Company, Dick Walsh co-presents his new play – George Bush and Children – as part of Tiger Dublin Fringe 2016. Extraordinary spot-on and inconspicuously engaging, this play is a bucket of fresh water being dropped on top of you. Just as bizarre as its title, Dick Walsh’s play is actually surprisingly realistic .

With the script composed mainly from random pieces of dialogues from a number of topical internet talkshows, this pacy 60 min piece touches on such subjects as sex, politics, abortion, people with disabilities, torture and other.  With four actors (Oddie Braddell, Shane Connolly, Fionnuala Flahert and Grainne Hallahan) playing basically themselves and using their actual names, the four characters come across quite vividly and naturalistically. Following the natural flow of a real life conversation, we have the four actors express different opinions on hot and rather controversial subjects. They don’t always agree with each other, they don’t always feel comfortable sharing their experiences and opinions on the topic; sometimes, it gets too personal, even, perhaps private; sometimes there’s an awkward pause, a silence a second too long, a plea to change the topic… sometimes, it becomes clear that a  lack of an answer is an answer just as much. The beauty of it all is that every argument is presented with a counter-argument and a clash of opinions, experiences and points of view.

The main difference between this and real life is that George Bush and Children is also beautiful choreographed. Having experienced a production by Pan Pan Theatre in the past, I must add here that regarding movement their plays are quite a bit of work by themselves. Almost none of the actors simply stands still while delivering their lines. Like in a tribal dance, they move around each other, they bend over, they jump up and down, they mime or walk against the wind… they create the environment and the mood with their own bodies.

Where there is movement, there is voice. And voice is a huge part of this piece. The whole play is directed either to the audience (and believe me when I say that actors really mean what they say to the viewers) or to a fellow actor on stage. Have you ever experienced this feeling when somebody is talking to you, to you and to nobody else? When they look not through you but rather into you?

Another important part of George Bush and Children is the set (by Tom O’Brien). As it often happens nowadays, the stage is stripped down apart from a couple of huge reflecting glasses hanging from the ceiling. And what can be more truthful or speak for itself than one’s own reflection in a distorting mirror?

George Bush and Children runs in the Project Arts Center, as part of Tiger Dublin Fringe 2016, until September 17th. Don’t miss this out-of-this-worldish realism. For more info or to book tickets: http://www.fringefest.com/festival/whats-on/george-bush-and-children

 

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Filed under Dick Walsh Theatre, FringeFest 2016, George Bush and Children, Pan Pan Theatre Company, Tiger Dublin Fringe 2016, Uncategorized

The Smock Alley Theatre: Newcastlewest (Dublin Theatre Festival 2015)

So, Newcastlewest happened to me yesterday.

I say “happened” because until the very last minute I didn’t know whether I was going to see it or not (perks of volunteering, I´ll expand on it later, in a separate post). Newcastlewest indeed looks very appealing even from the moment you see the poster. It certainly did catch my eye. Apparently, the play had been sold out for the majority, if not all, of the run, including yesterday. So, when I saw a lonely standing chair seconds before the black curtain went up, I ran for it as I had never run for anything in my life.

The Smock Alley’s Black Box was almost unrecognizably transformed: the audience – the black curtain – the back red wall, that kept moving away as the show progressed.

From the rehearsal pictures and what I had read about the play, I knew it was going to be something completely different and unlike anything else I’d seen before. I must admit I wasn’t too concerned about it because the play was produced by the Pan Pan Theatre Company and I happened to be a big fan of their’s (I’m still reminiscing about A Midsummer´s Night Dream directed by Gavin Quinn for The Abbey Theatre earlier this year).

Newcastlewest is a a very bizarre story about Marya (played by Annabell Rickerby). Marya is a weird mid-twenties blood sucker who doesn’t know what to do with her life. She lives with her old, and slightly paedophilic, dad (played by Des Nealon) and his care-taker (played by Una McKevitt).

Marya is one of those not very enthusiastic or ambitious people. She knows that she has to find a job, but what are the chances that she will? She has never graduated from her social studies course, she doesn’t really have any work experience… She wants to work with troubled kids because she likes helping people. Or she rather likes the idea of helping people. But then she doesn’t really want to move a stone even to try to get a job… Well, good for her the care taker has some sort of a friend from school (played by Dick Walsh) who works in Brussels now and might be able to find a position for Marya.. if she is willing to meet him for an interview… and consider moving to Brussels.

Interestingly enough, the story is quite easy to follow. It´s the way it is told that makes all the difference. After the show I felt like I had just woken up after a very graphic bizarre (I’m not sure good or bad) dream. Being incomparable to absolutely anything I had seen before, the emotions it provoked in me I can only relate to those one might have after watching the last episodes of Twin Peaks.

Music, beautifully choreographed movements, juicy colours, easy to follow plot and the slight madness edging somewhere in between the reality and the dreamland- by now it’s quite evident that Pan Pan has its own very unique style David Lynch himself might envy.

Newcastlewest hold your full attention for the whole 70 minutes of the duration of the play. It’s not what happens next but more like how it happens. Newcastlewest is absolutely not about the bigger picture but rather about all the fine well thought through details.

Remember how I always say that great theatre must challenge? Well, Newcastlewest is a very challenging piece of modern theatre. It’s a breath of fresh air in a pond of old water… It’s nothing like you’ve seen before. Go and catch it before it ends TONIGHT in The Smock Alley Theatre! For more info or to book tickets: http://smockalley.com/newcastlewest/ 

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Filed under Dublin Theatre Festival 2015, Newcastlewest, Pan Pan Theatre Company, Smock Alley Theatre

The Abbey Theatre: A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

“The course of true love never did run smooth.”

– Willian Shakespeare Midsummer´s Night Dream

It was so good I wanted to cry.

The fact that The Abbey was going to stage Shakespeare´s Midsummer’s Night Dream I found out last November during a member’s special event. We were also told that the play (directed by Gavin Quinn from Pan Pan Theatre Company) wasn’t going to be a usual one… the action was going to take a place in an old folks house, therefore all the characters are elder people. That sounded fantastic, methought!

I think I won’t be too far from the truth if I say that Shakespeare isn’t for everybody: some don’t like him, others don’t understand him. I blame school and the way Shakespeare is taught. After all, he was a playwright, not a writer. Shakespeare is meant to be seen, not read.

So, what Pan Pan did in the Abbey was simply incredible. It made Shakespeare interesting, entertaining, understandable and fun. I couldn’t believe that I was actually getting everything (and I mean every single line!) that was going on on stage and everything made sense.

I must say that Midsummer’s Night Dream was a different (together with last year’s Twelfth Night directed by Wayne Jordan) and what some might call alternative adaptation. From what I’ve heard in the audience, people didn’t expect anything like that at all. They were shocked, but in a good way.

The actors were excellent. Everybody suited so perfectly their characters. But I think there was one actress in particular who just stole the show. I am talking about the beautiful Stella Mcusker who played Peaseblossom. Her fairy was the fairiest fairy I’ve ever seen. The way she wheeled around the stage with a huge butterfly on her head was just unforgettable. Definitely one of the highlights of the whole play.

Another actor who also stole the show was Daniel Reardon. He played two characters (as many other actors did): Puck and Philostrate. I don’t know what exactly it is, but there is certainly something about this man. He is a natural on stage. His rockish Philostrate was simply amazing. So was his Puck the Priest. I’ve never seen an actor who is more comfortable on stage than Reardon.

There are some changes to the original version (a little spoiler alert here): instead of a father Hermina now has a son who wants to marry her off, for example. I’m not going to give away it all. So, go and see it yourself!

A very special thank you has to be given to the tech theatre team who built an absolutely fantastic set. It easily converts from an old folks house into a fairy forest. The idea with the light along with orange curtains is simple and beautiful. A very strong effect also produced the room behind the window.  It gave the set a certain dimension.

The same goes to the sound team. The music was surprising, but fitted perfectly the scenes. The Italians sitting next to me were trying to sing along. I was really surprised to see some actors use microphones on stage. It’s not a normal practice for the Abbey. Personally, I don’t normally like it when the actors on stage use microphones (except, maybe, when they are used to create a certain effect: like an echo, for example), but this time it worked fine and didn’t cause any distraction.

The last but not least goes to the costume team. I loved how bold were the costume choices, especially Lysander’s outfit (the one on the posters all over Dublin). The flowery trousers were so… right and so Shakespeary. They put a smile on many people’s faces. Titania´s costumes were simply beautiful. Fiona Bell is a very beautiful woman, in general, but especially in this play.

Midsummer’s Night Dream by Gavin Quinn is definitely a must-see. So, catch it before it finishes on March, 28th. Tickets can be purchased here: http://www.abbeytheatre.ie/whats_on/event/a-midsummer-nights-dream/

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Filed under Irish Stage, Midsummer's Night Dream, Pan Pan Theatre Company, Performing arts, Shakespeare, The Abbey Theatre, Theatre, Theatre in Ireland, Theatre Lovers