Tag Archives: Colin Campbell

Project Arts Center: East of Berlin

“Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”

– Yehuda Bauer

It’s a well known fact that history is written by the victors. We rarely hear “the other side” of the story. Why ask the murderer when you have a survived victim?

East of Berlin is a play written by the Canadian playwright Hannah Moscovitch. It’s one of those plays that has a very unusual point of view, which makes the difference and presents the plot under a yet unshaded light.

Rudi (played by Colin Campbell) was born in 1945. And as he puts it himself, just as he was being born his “father was losing the war.” Rudi lives in Paraguay now; he speaks Spanish and almost does not bear any memories of his fatherland. And even though his own father has a picture of Hitler on his study desk, years after the defeat, Rudi does not ask many questions about the war. At least not until the day his school friend, another German expat and a war criminal son, Hermann (played by Liam Heslin) tells him what he knows about Rudi’s father’s duties during the war.

Disgusted and overwhelmed with all the new information, Rudi decides to leave Paraguay for Germany. Good for him, Odessa takes care of all the money problems. Odessa takes care of everything, for that matter. After a university graduation and years of living in Berlin, it looks like Rudi, or Otto as he’s now know, has almost settled for the quite, almost boring and measured, European life. He has achieved that stage in life when even he himself started believing in the lies that he was telling his new friends about his childhood, thus, for convenience reasons, he “killed” his parents in a car crash. But everything changes when a Jewish American girl Sarah (played Erin Flanigan) comes into the picture.

East of Berlin, directed by Lee Wilson, is a tense ninety minute almost a monologue (with a number of flashbacks) performance that tells a very usual story with a very unusual insight. Moscovitch achieved to create interesting characters that are very easy to feel for and empathize with. All three actors on stage, in their turn, give a performance to remember.

The story has a very nice organic build-up to its climax, with an unexpected twist at the end, which always is a bonus.

East of Berlin is yet another great example of  a serious matter being presented with a spoon of sugar. You can’t talk holocaust, death and betrayal for almost two hours without sparing the audience a smile every once in a while.

The set was quite basic (almost bare), but the practical and uncommon storage of the props made it the more interesting. The idea of hiding things in the base of the stage and only picking them up when they are needed made a wonderful allegory with the plot. Sometimes, there is more than just a skeleton in the closet.

I also quite liked the lighting design (by Zia Holly). Just like in Anna Bella Eema, Holly has an extraordinary feeling for the space in which she works and  definitely knows how it can be filled with the light for its benefits and the benefits of the actors performing.

East of Berlin runs in the Project Arts Center until January 16th, for more info or to book tickets, please, visit: http://projectartscentre.ie/event/east-berlin/

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Project Arts Center: Through A Glass Darkly

“For now we see through a glass, darkly.”

– 1 Corinthians 13:12

Through A Glass Darkly was a script originally written by Ingmar Bergman for TV. The film premiered in 1961, Bergman himself directed it. The script was adapted for the stage by Jenny Worton.

The Corn Exchange presents their interpretation of Bergman’s work, Through A Glass Darkly under the direction of Annie Ryan.

Even though in this adaptation, the play is set in Ireland, I couldn’t get rid of the sensation that we were very far away form our little Green Island. The simple blue-grey set evoked in me the memories of visiting Norway and the fjords. Bergman himself was a Swede, and the whole atmosphere of his piece screams of being trapped in between cold rivers running through the mountains.

David (played by Peter Gowen) is a well-known novelist who comes back home from one of his long trips abroad. A couple of days in and he’s already talking about leaving for Croatia, where he was invited to lecture in a university. David has a teenage son (played by Colin Campbell) who has just reached that age when he desperately needs to be able to talk to his father, to ask for his advice, to get his approval. But it seems like David barely notices his younger child. All his attention, when it’s not fixed on the current script he is writing, goes to Karin (played by Beth Cooke). Karin, just like her late mother, is showing symptoms of sever mental illness. She is not crazy, she just has those moments when she forgets who she is or where she is or who are all these people surrounding her. Unfortunately, Karin is becoming more and more those moments than herself. Her husband Martin (played by Peter Gaynor), who is a young doctor himself, is desperately trying to bring her back to sanity. But once you step onto the other side of the mirror, there is really no way of coming back.

The breathtaking portraying of characters by both Cooke and Campbell make the play memorable. Their beautiful but very troubled relationship between a brother and a sister is a good contrast to that of Karin and her husband or to that of Minus and his father.

The play presents us with four completely different characters, each one fighting his or her own battle. It asks loads of questions, questions of humanity and morale. It doesn’t necessarily give you all the answers. I quite liked the ending. Not every story is supposed to finish on a high note. It was a logical and a very human ending. A very contrasting one comparing to the beginning of the play.

Through A Glass Darkly runs in the Project Arts Center until December 5th. For more info or to buy tickets, please, visit: http://projectartscentre.ie/event/glass-darkly/

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Smock Alley Theatre: The Windstealers (Tiger Dublin Fringe’15)

The Windstealers by Eccles Theatre Group is another show that concluded the first week of this year’s Dublin Fringe Festival.

The play tells us about the Irish town of Ballygweeha where the wind is so strong and fierce that people learnt to walk at an angle. There is no business, no jobs, nothing there… Naturally, the majority of young people leave the town as soon as they get a chance and only god knows why the rest don’t do the same.

There is a number of characters who live in Ballygweeha: the mayor (played by Christiane O’Mahony), her whippier husband (played by Colin Campbell), their rebellious daughter Jacinta (played by Katie Honan); Mrs Mooney (played by Roseanna Purcell) is the old woman, who has “changed everybody’s nappie in Ballygweeha” and she probably did; The corrupted Moriarty brothers (played by Rory Corcoran, Colin Campbell and Lloyd Cooney) and Luc Torney (played by Alan Mahon), Ballygweeha’s native son, who returned to his village, after years away, with a business proposal no one could (afford to) reject.

The Windstealers is a a satirical play with absolutely amazingly choreographed movements. The way people move around the stage made me think that it was dance show at the beginning.

This play is another great example of a serious recurring issue being converted into an entreating watchable piece of art. The play touches a number of important problems, such as: rebellious adulthood, corruption in a little town, fat cats, immigration… And all the actors, most of whom are playing more than one character, brilliantly create a sense of a village on a tiny stage.

For a better satirical effect, all of the characters are completely blown up and easily recognisable.

So if you are one of those who is always in for a bit of old Irish craic and beautifully staged performance (the costumes are amazing too, simple but so bright and colorful!), then keep an eye on this one! For more info: http://fringefest.com/festival/whats-on/the-windstealers

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Filed under Smock Alley Theatre, The Windstealers, Tiger Dublin Fringe'15