Category Archives: The Complex

The Complex: Horae

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Here’s a saucy one: a play about whores!

Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk about Horae – a unique theatre piece about the ancient craft of prostitution. From virgins to whores: in this roughly 40 minute performance Susie Lamb (the creator and performer) dances the audience through her darkishly enlightening tale.

Presented through the eyes of a single character, Lamb deepens us into the ancient world of sacred temples, where the street girls weren’t from the streets at all, they were regarded as almost holy creatures capable of providing the best cure, care and comfort. The goddesses of high places they were. And how quickly everything changed. Horae brings us back in time to learn how drastically the history can turn sometimes. In her mix of movement and spoken word, Lamb narrates the story of how once a sacred profession, a trade of respect and honour, fell so low it became a shame, an unspoken taboo.

Brought to us by NEST theatre company, Horae is an amazing example of theatre created by women and about women that could be easily enjoyed by everyone. Horae is a very strong, very unlike anything else piece of raw daring theatre at its best. It uses powerful elements to carry the already quite substantial and important subject forward and present it to the audience in a unique shape.

In Horae it quickly becomes obvious that Lamb knows her trade inside out. A professional actress and dancer, she is comfortable enough in her natural habitat to present the story to the others while keeping it fresh and engaging at all times.

Horae is a combined piece of many big and small elements. It’s a rich performance when it comes to interpretation but quite appropriately modest regarding the set design and costumes. Nevertheless, the one thing that does stand out is the lighting design (by Adrian Mullan). Visually striking beginning – the red light dot traveling through the body of the actress – was the perfect opening for such a performance.

A thoroughly researched and even more masterfully performed piece that shouldn’t be missed, Horae runs in the The Complex till February 26th. For more info or to book the tickets, do not hesitate a second and contact: http://thecomplex.ie/cinema/horae/

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Filed under Horae, Scene and Heard Festival, Susie Lamb, The Complex, The Complex Live Arts Space, Uncategorized

The Complex: The Leaves of Heaven

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From big theaters to small lofts. From traditional spaces to the most unorthodox and challenging ones. Only a true theatre goer knows that the beauty of those unconventional places hides in the fact that every performance there is a technical, artistic and directorial surprise. The little spaces are usually the ones that invest all their heart and soul into staging a small scale but otherwise truly big productions. The Complex is a venue exactly like that. You are always in for a nice treat when you walk through the little side door on Little Green Street.

First going through an exhibition room beautifully decorated with candles and much needed winter warmth, you finally end up in the performing space, which is carefully designed to meet the needs of each performance separately. For The Leaves of Heaven the audience is seated on one side facing the stage. And from the second you walk in, all your attention is immediately and irreversibly drawn to the set (designed by Stephanie Golden and Justyna Marta Nowicka). But the real astonishment hits when you realise that the majority of the decoration and props – doll houses – is done with simple DIY tools like cardboard cut outs and paper. Placed on a side they create a somewhat nostalgic image of a child’s room. While on the other side we have a paper tree and a bench – a very symbolic representation of solitude and loneliness, the feeling of which consistently penetrates the story. To add a slightly edgy and even, perhaps, creepy angle to the piece a number of dummies inhabit the already eerie stage. In a corner is hanging a big full moon.

Balancing on the periphery of this world and the imaginary one, we finally meet Francie Brady (played by Brian Mallon) – the butcher boy. In The Leaves of Heaven Pat McCabe revisits one of his most famous characters but only as a ghost, amongst many others, who is there to document Brady’s story not to interfere with it. Following the horrifically abusive childhood and the murder it lead to, Francie ends up in the place where he was always meant to be: a criminal asylum. As his mental state deteriorates and the mind is being almost completely overtaken by profound delusion, it becomes more and more difficult to say which part of his story is real and which one is entirely a plot created by his ill imagination. The only one thing is constant: the apparition of our Holy Mother Mary (played by Mairead Devlin). She is the only one who never gave up on Francie.

Both Mallon and Devlin give an absolutely jaw-dropping performance. Brian’s impeccable spot-on boyish physicality and the impossibly tragic portrayal of the decay of the butcher boy’s mind allows the audience to see a total different side of Francie. He is frail, he is sad but, most of all, he is human. Both Mallon and Devlin play a whole range of different characters, all vary in age, gender and nationality, but every single one of them comes across as a complete real human being. You look at a dummies’ face and you don’t see a dummy, you see a person – a personality – hiding, at times being completely lost, behind it. The embodyment is so creepily exact sometimes that it’s hard to process the fact that there are only two actors on stage. Devlin’s breathtaking voice is indescribable and unreviewable. Her Ave Maria was pure heaven.

To round up the whole experience, the ultimate atmosphere setters are undoubtedly the lighting (by Conleth White) and the sound designs. Music is so perfect for the mood, it makes you cry. It pinches that other sense – hearing – that allows you to perceive Francie’s state of mind on a more profound level. The Leaves of Heaven is one of those plays where the props (by Stephanie Golden, Justyna Marta Nowicka, Sam Lambert, Derek Hathaway and Lewis McGee) are just as important as the actors. The incredible moon that would turn from peaceful white to ominous red was a whole being of its own adding a powerful eerie touch to the surrealism of it all.

McCabe’s play transfers you from a hopeless Irish small town (that the novel is set in) into an absolutely unique and colourful universe that reins in Francie’s mind. Just like their stories, all the characters’ voices are unique and easily distinguishable. And even though their life paths might be gruesome, at times appalling and even shocking, the beautiful storytelling of McCabe’s play allows the audience to surpass those actions of long ago. We witness the real, though heavily decaying, humanity behind the dummy’s mask.

The Leaves of Heaven is impossible not to connect with. The plot, the performances, the characterisation, the actors’ output and, of course, the directing (by Joe O’Byrne) of this production will leave you in an awe. This 90 min piece holds so much of dramatic tension and human emotion that  can only be experienced in a comfort of a safe intimate space like The Complex. The play runs till November 27th. For more info or to book tickets: https://www.tickets.ie/events.aspx/search?s=leaves or by calling (01) 544 6922

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Filed under Pat McCabe, The Complex, The Complex Live Arts Space, The Leaves of Heaven, Uncategorized

The Complex: In Light of Salt Rings They Drew

Yesterday The Complex Live Arts Center opened its doors to the public for the very first time. The first play that was going to introduce the new space to the Dublin audience was the award winning play In Light of Salt Rings They Drew by Sadhbh Moriarty and the Strive Theatre.

Interestingly enough, in the writing community you are told not to write plays about actors. Honestly, I do not know when and where this rule came from. But In Light of Salt Rings They Drew is the perfect exception of this rule.

In Light of Salt Rings They Drew is a story about a demented woman. Maisie (played by Nikki Burke), once a promising film and television star, just had a serious car accident. But that is not the scary part, the awful side of the story is that she doesn’t remember how she got into the car or why she ended up where she ended up; she can barely remember how hours after the crush the rescue team was getting her out of the car. She is in a hospital now… but only for a couple of months, or so she is determined, until the IFTA nominations in April, where she will be accompanying her daughter Mari (played by Rachel Feeney), also a young and promising actress.

In the hospital Maisie gets to know other pationes and staff members. There is the excentric and moody Ethel (played by Shannon Smythe), who wanders into Maisie’s room any time she wants to have a chat or if she feels lonely. And just as easily as she walks in, she leaves. Ethel has dementia and doesn’t recognise members of her own family.

Then there is Alistor (played by Cornelius Dwyer), the caretaker who spends his days craving for a real, non-electronic cigarette. Alister is kind of character who sounds and behaves like he has just stepped down from an Oscar Wild’s book. A kind of Algernon but without the superficiality.

Mona (played by Ellen Quirke) is a kind and caring nurse who takes care of both Ethel and Maisie.

In Light of Salt Rings They Drew, directed by Ciarán MacArtain and Sadhbh Moriarty, is a beautifully paced play in two acts. I personally found it very educative and informative, as the piece deals with two different cases of dementia. And it doesn’t just throw the bare facts at you; but through a very elaborated and thought through plot, it sneaks in the clues and drops bits of information here and there for you to pick them up and study. Just like an early stages of Alzheimer or dementia, it allows you to pick up little bits that are quite out of place, and then create the big picture out of them at the end.

I’m happy to say that there is an unexpected twist at the end. Nowadays, it’s truly very challenging to create an original piece of writing that would be truly fresh and new. In Light of Salt Rings They Drew is one of those plays. Apart form bringing attention to such a difficult topic, Moriarty also created four absolutely human, believable and so unlike each other characters. All five actors gave so much to their characters that it was impossible not to feel and empathise with them.

In Light of Salt Rings They Drew closes tonight in The Complex. But the Strive Theatre is currently touring with the play. So, keep an  eye on it! For more info: https://www.facebook.com/StriveTheatreGroup/?fref=ts

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Filed under Strive Theatre, The Complex