Category Archives: The O’Reilly Theatre

O’Reilly Theatre: King Lear

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“Nothing can come of nothing, speak again.”

–       King Lear, W. Shakespeare

Just when you think that there is nothing left to surprise you in Shakespeare and his work, a new company pops up and completely re-imagines the good old well-known.

It’s highly admirable when the audience attention can be captured from the moment one walks into the auditorium. And The C Company with its production of King Lear achieved it no doubt whatsoever. Refreshing and captivating it was to see the actors in their natural habitat even before the first word was said. The beginning of the play was so natural; it almost felt like you are eavesdropping on the characters while they are carrying on about their everyday business.

The Leir of England is mad and doesn’t need an introduction or explanations. Perhaps, one of Shakespeare’s most famous and greatest plays about the quarrels of fathers and sons, or rather daughters, truly finds a new interpretation on the O’Reilly’s stage. It’s like Aoife Spillane – Hinks, the director of the piece, opens the window of the old locked house and lets a wave of fresh air in. Everything is eye-catchy and fascinating about this production, starting with the drastic cuts to the script (the piece is slightly under two hours, no interval) and continuing with an interesting set and imaginative costume designs.

It always depends on the director which characters to show off (unless a sneaky actor decides to steal the show, of course). In this particular interpretation, two characters stood out for me: Goneril (played by Maeve Fitzgerald) and the Earl of Gloucester (played by Simon Coury). Not to undermine the rest of the cast, I must note that the ensemble performed absolutely beautifully from the beginning to the very end. With such talented and truly outstanding performers as Breffni Holahan, Mark Fitzgerald and, of course, Jonathan White who took upon himself the title role of the piece, it couldn’t be any other way.

Feminist bags, fairylights skirts, Dr. Martins shoes, funky glitter jackets… it’s only a tiny hint into what one is in for when going to see this King Lear. Hanna Bowe, the designer of the play, has taken some very brave decision on how to dress the stage and the actors. And now she can be well-deservedly praised for it.

One thing that particularly stands out about The C Company’s production of King Lear is the stage craft and movement. And here I’m not talking about stage combat or fighting. The way the actors interacted with the furniture and props was fascinating. The O’Reilly’s Theatre is a very difficult space to perform in as the audience is separated from the stage by a huge stretch of emptiness. Thus, the decision to use that space and to have some actors exit and enter through the auditorium was a strong choice.

So, if you are getting the January blues and in need of some theaterapy, do not look any further and come to see The C Company’s production of King Lear. For more info or to book tickets: http://www.oreillytheatre.com/

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The O’Reilly Theatre: The Cherry Orchard (Dublin Theatre Festival 2015)

“My mistress has come home; at last I’ve seen her. Now I’m ready to die.”

– The Cherry Orchard 

And just as the last red curtains are falling down upon the stages, Dublin Theatre Festival 2015 is drawing to its end. It’s honestly been an amazing two a half weeks! And just before I head off to the volunteers’ party, there is still one review to be done.

I closed the DTF 2015 for myself with Anton Chekhov’s last play The Cherry Orchard, in a version by the Belgian tg STAN Theatre Company.

The Cherry Orchard is a very dear to my heart play. I myself participated in a college production of The Cherry Orchard less than a year ago. So the memories of the rehearsals and the play itself are still very vivid, fresh and alive in my mind.

The Cherry Orchard is a story about the past and the present. Once a glorious and full of life estate is now to be sold off at an auction to pay debts. Lyubov Ranyevskaya (played by Jolente De Keersmaeker), the owner of the estate, comes back from Paris just to see the house of her childhood in a complete state of decay. She is given three months to find the money. Otherwise, she can say goodbye to the lovely gentle Cherry Orchard.

The Cherry Orchard is regarded as one of the finest of all Chekhov’s plays. The four act piece includes so many fine details and situations relevant to the time when it was written (1903). It discusses the status of the rich and the poor. More than forty years after the abolition of the slavery, it still touches the sensitive issue of the old servants not being able to leave (mostly voluntarily) the families they worked for for generations. Another big problem that Chekhov openly laughs at is the inability of the nobility to make any decisions. Everything has always been done for them (these people were born with money!) in a way that when they found themselves in the shit, they are still gazing at the stars, dancing, drinking champagne and hoping for the miraculous best.

tg STAN made a wonderful own interpretation of the plot. I must say that what I saw was indeed very unexpected and different. Some actors created very beautiful and interesting characters. Evelien Bosmans’ Anya was outstanding. I’ve never regarded her character as an appealing one, but what this actress did with it was simply amazing. Anya came truly alive on stage.

I also quite liked Evgenia Brendes’ Varya. I absolutely loved the bits when the actress would suddenly burst into speaking Russian. I understand that the majority of the audience might not understand what was going on… but it was so natural that I didn’t care. It was one of those moments when you go with what feels right.

With a very minimalistic set (that was moved around by the actors for each act), simple but appropriate for their characters attire, sound effects and Charlotta’s (played by Scarlet Tummers) tricks, the play was a very solid piece. I must add that some of the sub-plot lines were not developed as much as I would have liked them to. It looked like the company has focused on other bits. But the play was definitely very funny and that’s exactly what the writer wanted it to be.

And even though the difference between the Belgian theatre and the Irish theatre is quite evident, it’s good to keep an open mind and see what’s out there. There were some very controversial moments in the play that not everyone might have agreed with, but it’s great to know that those options exist.

For more info about the play, please, visit: http://www.stan.be/content.asp?path=da476z6u

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Filed under Dublin Theatre Festival 2015, tg STAN, The Cherry Orchard, The O'Reilly Theatre