Tag Archives: original plays

Pearse Centre: Both Sides Now (IDGTF)

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The International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival 2017 has opened its wide and ever welcoming doors to another year of theatre, art, music and creative performances. Filled with pieces on gay awareness, the two weeks of the festival have on offer something very special for each and everyone.

Both Sides Now, written and performed by Nicole O’Connor, is just one of the rich variety of plays that is presented by its creators to be truly enjoyed and experienced. Being part of a double bill deal (see two plays for the price of one; who would say no to that?) along with Leah Moore’s Wasting Paper, Both Sides Now tells us the story of Lydia – a young bisexual girl who is on a long road of discovering herself and her sexuality. Lydia is doing her first steps into the world of the unknown where she meets Carrie, her first love. After making plans of travelling the world together, the young couple doesn’t even survive the summer. Not being able to get completely over Carrie, Lydia looks for her cure – a sort of, at least – in Joni Mitchell’s songs.

The way this forty minute piece is delivered is both touching and charming. It’s simple and very natural but captivating, at the same time. O’Connor, who plays the title character, just like an old friend brings you through the story. She makes it funny and sad; she even has a cute handmade presentation to explain some things.

Both Sides Now is a beautiful mix of music and storytelling. And if you happen to be an admirer of Joni Mitchell’s, then you are undoubtedly in for a double treat.

Both Sides Now, an original piece of theatre directed by James O’Connor, runs in the Pearse Centre Theatre until May 6th (with a 4PM and a 7.30PM performances on Saturday). For more info or to book tickets: https://gaytheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873572855/events 

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Bewley’s Café Theatre: Jericho

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Here’s some substantial and even, perhaps, existential thought for your lunch break: how did we end up in this giant puddle of poo-poo? I mean: us. Yes. Us. And the world. The little blue dot we all happily inhabit.

What do you do when you’ve been asked to make a play about the world? Our world. Where do you start? Where do you start?… The uneasy task was taken upon by one of Dublin’s most progressive and forth-looking theatre companies: Malaprop. The answer they came up with might not be the most obvious one but it sure is a very interesting approach to something so deep and important. Malaprop bravely decided to wrestle the discomforting subject. Both literally and metaphorically. And the result is Jericho.

After a couple of not-quite-so-satisfying attempts, Maeve O’Mahony finally emerges on stage the way she has always imagined it: with the triumphant music playing on the background and hundreds of fans cheering for her victory. But the question remains: what did she win? In the comfortable cosy life of hers, O’Mahony’s character is a young journalism graduate who works for one of those so popular nowadays newspapers that generates traffic on clicks. Our nameless heroine tells us she has to write a new story every 45 minutes and hope that it will be read (or at least clicked on) by as many people as possible. In an office meeting it was proposed to feature an article on Wrestlemania (the one where the current president of one of the most powerful countries on earth bodyshames another billionaire and entertainer by publicly shaving his head) and though she doesn’t know a thing about wrestling and thinks that maybe, perhaps, we should focus on something more important like feminism and women’s rights right now, yet she doesn’t say a thing and just smiles and nods.

Interestingly enough Jericho itself lasts for approximately 45 min. Just long enough for us to focus on one thing before our attention will inevitably be diverted by something completely different and undoubtedly much less important though hugely entertaining, like a video of a cute cat or a baby.

Jericho (“The city. Not the wrestler”… I think) is loaded with visual and audio materials. The smartly designed stage (by Molly O’Cathain) quickly transforms from our heroine’s office into her rented apartment, into a wrestling arena, etc. This production is a nice example of an interactive play where the audience can feel like they are being part of the created on-stage world. O’Mahony speaks with you rather than at you. The amount of flashing and sounding effects (by John Gunning) is overwhelming at times but it does the trick and produces the feeling of being so overpowered by the media that we can’t hear our own thoughts anymore.

O’Mahony does an absolutely fantastic job portraying her typical 21st century girl with a degree and a wish to make the world a better place. But, you know, life just gets onto the way sometimes. I mean: all the time. It happens to all of us and that’s why we, just like her, don’t say anything, don’t do anything and just carry on. Click. Click. Another page. Another story.

Jericho, devised  by Malaprop Theatre Co and directed by Claire O’Reilly, runs in the Bewley’s Café Theatre until March 4th. Food for thought indeed it is. For more info or to book tickets: http://www.bewleyscafetheatre.com/events/jericho

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The Abbey Theatre: Arlington

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The new season, and what looks like a whole new life for The Abbey Theatre, opened 2017 with one of Enda Walsh’s most recent plays – Arlington, a dramatic performance of a new dystopian world that jumps out of page on Ireland’s National Stage in a fascinatingly profound embodiment.

In this ninety minute non-stop piece, Walsh brings us on a multi-dimensional journey into a strangely scary futuristic world of broken people and imprisoned emotions. What roughly could be divided into three parts, Arlington is a powerful combination of spoken words, dance, movement, monologue, sound and visual effects. Almost like something out of a George Orwell novel, in reality Arlington is a beautifully metaphorical closed room drama, speaking both literally and metaphorically.

Isla is a girl (played by Charlie Murphy) who has spent almost an entire life inside this weird empty waiting room just waiting for her number to be called. The only source of communication with the outside world for her has been a mic on the wall. There is a guy – the new guy (played by Hugh O’Connor), as we soon find out – on the other side, nevertheless. In a small cluttered office, like a rat in his preassigned cubicle, he listens to Isla’s wildest dreams and thoughts. It’s only a matter of time now before he himself will take her place inside the locked madness.

And just as quickly as the door opens in front of Isla, it soon closes behind the other girl (played by Oonagh Doherty). Without saying a single world, she offers us her tale entirely through movement and dance. With an absolutely breathtaking game of light and shadow (designed by Adam Silverman), not a single bit of text or explanation is needed to transmit the meaning behind the silent story to the audience. The girl  uses her own body to convey the concept of a locked space: be it a room or a human body.

Walsh’s play premiered last year at Galway International Arts Festival. An abstract piece with more than defined meaning, Arlington combines in itself a hurricane of human emotions. Three very diverse, very different pieces about human nature , deep grief and yearning for something that they are being stripped off, present very nicely balanced contrast one to another.

The set design (by Jamie Vartan) and its symbolism also plays a huge part in the piece. Like a fish herself, the appropriately named Isla, for example, waits in a bare room with almost nothing but three plastic chairs and a forever empty fish tank.

A trap that you would love to fall into, Arlington runs in The Abbey Theatre until February 25th. For more info or to book tickets: http://www.abbeytheatre.ie/whats_on/event/arlington?gclid=CP7IgfaZn9ICFW4B0wodBbcA_Q

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Theatre Upstairs: Aisling’s Seven

 

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Have you ever wanted to do something cool, so dangerously, unbelievably enviously cool? Like, let’s say, robbing a bank? Because, why not? It’s no secret everyone can do with a bit of extra cash (a couple of hundred of thousand of one of those stable hard currencies); we all also dream about living in a nice big house by the beach, in a place where the sky is always blue,the air is always fresh and gentle and the sun is just bathing you in its never-ending warmth… Somewhere like Rio, for example. Wouldn’t life then be just wonderful?

And that aside, how cool would the process itself of stealing the money be? A black balaclava – check, a black suit – check, a torch (because who doesn’t need a torch?) – check, a couple of really smooth yoga-ish slash kung-fu movements to manoeuvre along the red lasers (there probably won’t be any, but… well, you never know), the get-away car waiting outside. THE GET-AWAY CAR!

Even if you have never dreamt of it, sure you would have seen it in one of the numerous films on the subject. And I bet, you couldn’t help but imagine yourself being in place of the protagonist. Being just as he or she was: quick, smart and cool. So unbelievably and enviously cool.

Well… so did Ash (played by Susan Barrett) and her boyfriend Dan (played by Stephen Gorman).  Ash occupies the absolutely boring and unexciting position of a bank clerk. Day after day, costumer after costumer… life doesn’t throw anything even a bit exciting into Aisling’s direction. Living in a small rented apartment in Ranelagh, our protagonist dreams of a better life somewhere sunny and hot. She even knows how to get where she wants to be: she just has to rob the Central Bank in Dublin city center. She even has a person “on the inside”: herself. She conveniently already works there. Being a security guard in a casino, Aisling’s boyfriend Dan enthusiastically agrees to help out with the “technical side” of the deal. All they need is to find the other five “contributors” to help them with their little plan. Five highly-professional volunteers who won’t ask any questions. The couple is even ready to share the stolen profit.

Ash and Dan are serious about what they are doing; they are so serious, they even have a wall board, on which they’ve drawn their dream house (it’s always good to have a clear motivation, it helps to keep moving towards the set goal). In addition to the wall, they have a 12 step plan on how to rob a bank! It’s all there on the wall.

Everything looks great and makes perfect sense. To Ash and Dan. But not to Áine (played by Sinead O’Brien), Ash’s somewhat more sensible and down-to earth sister-psychologist. Áine’s good intentions of helping her sister out start getting on Ash’s nerves. She doesn’t need her sister’s help, she has the perfect plan for her perfect future.

And just when it looks like nothing can go wrong…

Aisling’s Seven (The Central Bank Heist), written and directed by Cian O’Ceallachain, is a wonderful easy-watch, perfect for a rainy (or sunny) Friday (or any other day of the week) afternoon (or matinee on Friday and Wednesday). It’s funny. It’s actually very very funny. There are loads of great plays being staged in Dublin nowadays, but it’s really difficult to find a production where the jokes would actually make you laugh instead of simply chuckle.

The plot is far from being original but it’s the beautifully shaped characters, the wonderfully written setting and brilliant performances given by all three actors that make Aisling’s Seven really stand out.

Presented by Underdog Theatre Productions, Aisling’s Seven is the perfect treat for a relaxing and entertaining night out. Closing on Saturday, 23rd of April, there is still a chance to catch it before it ends. Do not miss your opportunity to get some first-hand information on how to plan a bank robbery. Oops, I shall say no more. All the needed info on how to proceed: http://www.theatreupstairs.ie/aislings-seven

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Behind the scenes with Alice Malseed’s Jellyfish (Tiger Dublin fringe’15)

Today I had the pleasure to have a chat with the creator and performer of Jellyfish, Alice Malseed. Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival 2015 is in its full swing now but it´s quite safe to say that Malseed´s autobiographical play Jellyfish is one of its gems. The show opened last night and will be on in the Project Arts Center till the end of this week, so get your tickets sorted before it´s too late!

Being in her mid twenties, Belfast-native Alice Malseed is a real cosmopolite with some serious theatre experience. Across the years, she has lived and worked in Belfast, London and Jakarta. All those cities with their very special and very unique energies couldn’t help but affect Alice and her plays. She is also very much into night life, dance and electronic music.

Raw. Honest. Contemporary, is how she herself describes the Jellyfish.

Fluidity and lack of urgency; not being able to step back and look at what you did; fragile beauty are the things that make Jellyfish a real jellyfish.

Jellyfish is a story about experiences: of Alice’s, of her friends and close ones, of the cities she´s lived in. Alice never planned to write this play, it just “happened” to her as a result of being a young girl in a big city and constantly questioning everything around herself. She says that she has simply been interested in processing the world around her.

Fringe Festival has its reasons for being called “Fringe”. It’s a festival that is here to challenge the canons of the conventional storytelling act. Jellyfish is a very original play with some really authentic motives. The music, the different people around, the whole atmosphere sets you free. After a day of hard work, you are finally free. It’s a world, where even the language has its own unmistakable unique rhythm.

Boldness, as well as braveness and taking risks, are also amongst  the things that inspire and excite Alice. And those characteristics are all implemented into Jellyfish, which is about being in your 20s and living in a city. And being no different from others in their 20s, Alice wonders and asks millions of questions. Sometime, there are no answers to those questions. And that’s the challenge both the heroine on stage and the audience  have to face: sometimes, in life there just are no answers. A situation, regardless of age, anybody can relate to.

Even though the play is about living in your 20s, it absolutely does not mean that only 20-year olds can understand it. Those who have once been in their 20s or planning to be one day will also easily relate to it. Just like a city can be, everyone will be able to find the right place for themselves in the play; as Alice herself puts it “everyone has had a fucked up time and they can recognise it”. Often, real age is nothing but a number, experience is what really counts: “universality of individual experience”, as Alice puts it herself.

Alice is also trying to challenge the traditional structure of playwriting by playing with language and sentence structure.

Being a very personal piece of writing, Jellyfish isn’t a private play. There are loads of moments and bits in the play that Alice absolutely loves and would never change. Neither does she mind sharing this experience of hers with the audience; the play has a message and it needs to be heard.

Jellyfish, written by Alice Malseed and directed by Sarah Baxter runs in Project Arts Center until September 11th, to book your tickets … http://projectartscentre.ie/event/jellyfish/

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