Tag Archives: sex

Player’s Theatre: Montparnasse (IDGTF)

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Just as the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival 2017 is about to re-open its doors to the second week of the gay awareness feria, there is just one more play from the first week that deserves to be highlighted.

All the way from the Canadian province of Alberta to the Emerald Island, Theatre Outré brought to us Montparnasse, a 75 min extravaganza about two girlfriends living and experiencing the Années Folles – The Crazy Years. In the aftermath of the Belle Epoque a whole new era of art, culture and ideas has emerged. And the two Canadian ex-patriots, as well as best friends, found themselves in the midst of what was promising to be one of the most exciting eras to be alive.

We are in the city by the Seine. The aroma of vine, croissants and mixed paints is in the air. And Margaret (played by Katharine Zaborsky) is loving it. She has re-defined herself as a muse to some and a party friend to the others, but always being in the center of the elite Parisienne société: Miller, Modigliani, Hemingway, Chagall… Stripping off her clothes in front of them day after day, Margaret believed that she was doing something more, something bigger: she was inspiring the artists to create and to produce.

While her friend Amelia (played by Carolyn Ruether) didn’t find it all that amusing. A painter herself, she was more interested in the game of light and shadows, in the angles, in the positioning of the body… It seemed she had all the tools to do the job but the only missing piece seemed to be the vital one: the inspiration. Nevertheless, a new and unexpected, even a bit scary at the beginning, experience has been presented to Amelia. But is she ready to lay bare her body in order to learn from the best?

Montparnasse is an unexpectedly eccentric piece. It lets you witness not only the denuding of the body but also the stripping down of the very soul hiding behind it. The confidence and the security with which the actors present their work is both mesmerising and captivating. The Company has brought to the Dublin audience an absolutely beautiful recreation of Paris during the roaring twenties and the true portrayal of the spirit of the era.

Montparnasse is a brave piece of theatre that is not afraid to expose the human body in all its glowing beauty; it mixes well the picture with the entertaining story and some dreamy French tunes. With a small amount of props on stage our attention is completely overtaken by the plot and its masterful narration by the three actors.

When a play is worth bringing all the way from the other side of the ocean, it’s worth bringing! Montparnasse is easily one of the highlights of the first week of the festival. Prepare yourself for a play unlike anything else you’ve seen before!

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Filed under IDGTF, Montparnasse, Player's Theatre, Theatre Outre, Uncategorized

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

Theatre Upstairs: Murder of Crows

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“The only way to get what you want is to make them more afraid of you than they are of each other.”

– The Crimson Crow

Christmas could be very different. And sure it’s unlike anything else in Theatre Upstairs, where unravels a dark tale of friendship, foulness and fighting for the ones you love.

Bitter Like a Lemon in association with Theatre Upstairs presents its latest play Murder of Crows, a story about a school trip to hell. The three best friends Sam (played by Katie Honan), Dee (played by Amilia Stewart) and Jess (played by Aisling O’Mara) aren’t even meant to go in the first place but end up on the bus to the Garden of Ireland anyway. Just before the trip begins the girlfriends hear a prophecy that warns them of the black crows and begs them not to go anywhere near them. Not taking it too seriously, the girls set off on a journey that is going to change their lives forever. In Wicklow, they are scheduled to do some obligatory scholar activities that nobody is particularly excited about but the real fun starts after. The girls of St Brigit’s are being joined by students – mainly boys – from other schools. They start drinking, intermingling and do things that teenagers normally do. But the fateful hour has already been set. And maybe some people should be more careful with what they say and do, maybe they shouldn’t bully and make fun of others – weaker – ones… Maybe deep inside each one of us lives a little devil that is only waiting to be set free. The consequences of which sometimes can be harmful, even mortal or soul destroying.

Lee Coffey’s Murder of Crows is a heartbreaking piece with an unbelievable twist at the end. It’s almost impossible to digest how much raw meaty parts there is in this slightly under one hour play. Under the superb direction of Karl Shiels, the gradation of the piece is perfectly timed: it starts off nicely and slowly with no preparation of what is yet to come. You think it might be just one of those hight school plays where students talk about their problems. But you couldn’t be further from being wrong. Lee Coffey wouldn’t be Lee Coffey if he hadn’t written a play that actually aims to touch on some of the most tabooed and controversial subjects that teenagers encounter in everyday life but are afraid to talk about.

The script is being strongly supported by the outstanding cast of three actresses, who absolute nail their parts. The characterization and physicality is incredibly strong and it goes to both the main parts that the girls are playing and the secondary characters. I don’t think I’ll be wrong if I say that the way Aisling O’Mara delivered the prophecy sent chills to everyone in the audience. An absolutely out-of-this-world experience that petrified and mesmerized at the same time.

In a play like Murder of Crows, visual aspects can be very important and influential. The two things that caught my eye straight away were, of course, the set (by Naomi Faughnan) and the lighting (by Laura Honan) designs. Quite simple but visually very strong mood setters that made the piece even more atmospheric.

So, if you are in a mood for something completely different this season, don’t be a Grinch and steal Christmas. Go to see Murder or Crows and get your dose of darkness and brutal reality! Runs in Theatre Upstairs until December 17th, for more info or to book tickets: http://www.theatreupstairs.ie/murder-of-crows

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The Peacock Theatre: The Ireland Trilogy

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THEATREclub, without any doubt, is one of those theatre companies that is not afraid to create some truly thought-provoking, relevant and challenging plays that aim not only to entertain but to make people want to take action. The company takes some of the most controversial (often frowned upon by the rest) topics and makes a performance out of it. A performance that can easily be described as naturalistic and close to the real life. As a matter of fact, some of their productions are on such a thin line between the imaginary world and the reality that it becomes difficult to differentiate wether it’s all still just a game. The actors use their own names, they easily and eagerly interact with the audience and make the script come from their heart.

Having been to other productions by THEATREclub, I was somewhat prepared for the trilogy. Well, at least I thought I was. I knew well that I was going to see three pieces about possibly shocking but truthful reality, about what’s going on behind the closed doors and shut mouthes, about what is not only not being talked about but is being ignored and willingly forgotten by many. The company is famous for its thorough research process, for devising their plays inside the company and for the deep belief that a change is always possible. I was ready to be challenged. I was ready to see the real Ireland.

The Ireland Trilogy consists of three plays: The Family, Heroine and History. All of them are played by the same core ensemble of actors and directed by the company’s very own Grace Dyas.

The Family, just like the title suggests, peeks on the life of an ordinary Irish family. Here we have everything from: unrequited love to fathers and sons battles, to a relative leaving for America, to the fact that a family doesn’t exist as a family anymore, it’s just a bunch of cohabiting people who can’t or don’t want to listen, to understand and to support each other. All this is set in a freshly painted cardboard house with the romantic Andy Williams songs playing in the background. A beautifully wrapped glossy candy that is slightly rotten on the inside.

This piece strikes from the beginning as the characters acknowledge the audience’s existence straight away and even keep track of the “show time”. We become part of the play. What’s happening on stage isn’t happening to some faceless fictional “them”. It’s happening to our relatives, to our friends, to our neighbours… Sometimes, it’s even happening to us. The sound of a million voices, all shouting, screaming, whispering at the same time, makes it difficult to make out the words and sentences but impossible not to try to. All we have to do is just listen.

Heroine takes a look at the abuse of illegal drugs in Ireland for the last half of the century. A very beautifully composed piece with elements of poetry, spoken word and nostalgia for the good olden days. Heroine has a totally different feel to it as opposed to The Family. From the pink cotton candy fifties, we move to the cool, leather-jacketed, edgy seventies of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. The children of yesterday have grown up. They live in shabby apartments with their questionable friends, where they pump up hard drugs down the pulsing veins and watch trash TV programmes all day long. They don’t care about the future or the world. All those bad things happening around, they are not happening.

This piece particularly stands out because of the emotional delivery. The ensemble gives a heartbreaking performance of three broken – completely lost and drug dependent – souls.

History is the last part in The Ireland Trilogy. When one starts talking about the history of Ireland, the first thing that springs into mind is, of course, The Civil War, The Revolution, DeV and Michael Collins, the conflict between the Republic and Northern Ireland. History is indeed written by the winners. It’s also written by a selected group of the elite. People, common folks like you and me, unfortunately do not write the history. At least, not the one that will be composed into a book and studied by generations onwards.

And that’s exactly what’s on THEATREclub’s agenda: to show to the public the real history of Ireland (who deep inside is a beautiful ginger girl wearing an emerald green dress), the life of the other half, without sugarcoating or overdramatizing anything. History mainly looks on the historical importance of Richmond Barracks, where the British Army was homed during the Civil War; Goldenbridge Church that once used to be one of the infamous laundries housing unmarried and unwanted young mothers-to-be; and finally on the long tragic sixteen years of regeneration of Dublin’s St Michael’s Estate, that was built to fight the housing crisis of the 60s.

Originally built in 1969, the estate fell in to such a decay that by the end of the 80s  a survey was conducted amongst its inhabitants on what to do with the site. The absolute majority of the tenants preferred it to be completely demolished and rebuilt rather than refurbished. It will take the government sixteen long years to put an end to the inhuman living conditions of Inchicore’s council flats. The government has forgotten about these people, if it ever remembered about them in the first place. Even the statue of Virgin Mary erected on the premises felt like she had failed her devoted worshipers.

THEATREclub looks at modern Ireland through the spectacle of equality, with the broad meaning of this word. All people are equal and all of them deserve equal treatment and promise of a better – fairer – future therefore everybody’s story is important, everybody’s story is relevant and deserves to be heard. For more info about the plays and the company’s work: http://www.theatreclub.ie/our-work/

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Filed under Heroine, history, The Family, The Ireland Trilogy, The Peacock Theatre, THEATREclub, Uncategorized

The Back Loft: Stitching

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How long does it take to make a first impression? Some of the recent researchers say that the answer is: as short as seven seconds! What if you are an emerging theatre company who wants to claim its place under the sun? How do you go about deciding which play is the very first one to stage and to win the audience over with?

Here we have a shining brand new theatre company with an intriguing name: BlackLight Productions, created and founded by the recent graduates of The Gaiety School of Acting’s part time acting course: Sancha Mulcahy and Cliodhna McAllister.

For their firstborn production, the company chose an alternative theatrical space known for its relaxed, cozy and welcoming atmosphere: The Back Loft. As for the pioneer play itself, the choice fell on a slightly controversial, even provocative and definitely bold piece by the Scottish playwright Anthony Neilson, who, let me just note it here, is known for exploring primarily sex and violence in his work. And Stiching isn’t an exception. It introduces us to Abby (played by Cliodhna McAllister) and Stu (played by Ciarán McCollum), a young couple who discovers that they are about to have a baby. Being neither prepared, nor particularly excited about the fact, they have no idea what life is just about to throw at them.

The way this play is written has a twist of its own: it shows us a sequence of non-chronological events that leads us to believe that Abby was a call girl before she started dating Stu while the guy himself is not a saint, either, expressing perverted sexual desires. The Abby and Stu we meet come from the past, as well as the future, at the same time living in this very moment. But the story isn’t as simple as it seems. With an intense conflict of a difficult relationship, we are made to wait until the very end to see the real revelation of Abbey and Stu’s story.

In this tragicaly natural and full of dramatic realism production, the actors interact with the audience. They use quite intesively the acting space available to them, which creates a very nice feeling of the world existing outside of the designated performing room. Using silent video shorts was a very creative approach for when it came to fill in the space while the actors were changing or preparing in between the scenes.

It’s safe to say that Stiching is a tense ninety minute piece and it takes a real spine to choose it as the very first play when you are only starting out. The BlackLight Productions and their collaborators did it and they did it well!

Stiching runs in The Back Loft until November 25th, so catch it before it ends! You only get one chance to see something for the first time. For more info about the play and the theatre company: https://www.facebook.com/blacklighttheatrecompany/?fref=ts

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Project Arts Center: The Game (Dublin Theatre Festival 2015)

“We are here to help. We are not enjoying this but we will pretend that we do. It didn’t happen to me, it happened to somebody else.”

Would you dare to play The Game?

Don’t answer just yet. I’ll ask the same question after the review.

When a theatre company has a very specific and unique style, when it dares you to come and look into the bare boned face of the truth, when it challenges you, when it makes you uncomfortable, when it discusses big-scale problems of a small country, when it tries to find a solution, an answer, a response… then you know you are about to watch a play by the THEATREclub Company.

Another great thing about this theatre company is that it doesn’t only invite you to come a see a play, but it also allows (even needs) you to be a part of the their piece. THEATREclub works with real people and their plays are based on real life experiences. THEATREclub gives you a unique chance of experiencing something tragic and urgent without the big trauma.

The Game is a great example of such a play. It’s a devised work between Gemma Collins, Lauren Larkin (both of whom are on stage), Grace Dyas (directing) and “women currently employed as sex workers and those who have exited prostitution.” 

The play is presented as a live game show. There are five male volunteers on stage who agreed to participate. Absolutely any member of either the play or the audience can leave and come back (if they feel like it) at any point during the performance. And believe me, it’s a very comforting thought when you get to experience the process of The Game. This play does challenge in a way that no other play has ever challenged you before.

It’s important to remember that there are things that just need to be said out loud. You might not like them, you might not want to hear them, you might easily be getting overwhelmed with the information the actors are giving you, so take care of yourself. The actors on stage will guide you. But they will need you just as much as you will need them.

In their turns, each actress picks one of the volunteers and they re-enact a story that happened in real life. “It didn’t happen to them, but it did happen to somebody else.” The volunteers do not know the stories, they are being directed by the girls. Each story is different. Each story happened to a different person and had different consequences. All the stories have only one thing in common: all those girls (ex or current prostitutes) have been victims or violence, rape, ill treatment.

There are people out there who go on about their day, have families and jobs and, at the end of the day, they pull over at some dirty dark alley to get cheap sex from a desperate underaged girl. These men’s culture, background, morales would let them go ahead with the deal, but they would never even question why she is there, why she is doing what she’s doing, why nobody would stop her?

Why nobody would stop her? Why nobody cares? 

In different countries different rules apply when it comes to sex. How far can you go? How far would the law allow you to go without being punished? How far would the law go to protect the weak and the vulnerable ones? Why in one country you would be allowed to have sex with a newborn and in another country you would be a criminal by handing a sum of money to a prostitute even before anything happened?

A few weeks ago I already saw a play that touched the very same issue but in a different context. I said it then and want to repeat it now: it’s great to be able to live in a country where sex isn’t a taboo anymore. That’s why it’s so important to go and support plays like this. If we don’t want to do it for the sake of art, then we shall definitely do it for the sake of a better future where a problem can be acknowledged and dealt with, instead of being ignored and frowned upon.

So, I’m asking you one more time: Would you dare to play The Game? Remember: “you are there to help. And you are helping.” 

Catch this outstanding performance before it ends on October 11th. For more info or to book tickets: http://projectartscentre.ie/event/game/ 

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Filed under Dublin Theatre Festival 2015, Project Arts Center, The Game, THEATREclub

Smock Alley Theatre: Harder Faster More (Tiger Dublin Fringe’15)

The first week of Tiger Dublin Fringe’15 is drawing to its end. I have to acknowledge that all the productions I have seen so far have exceeded all my expectations, this year’s festival is filled with real gems – bold exciting plays.

Harder Faster More by Red Bear Productions is no exception. This production challenges the very structure of a conventional play: all the action takes place over the phone. It gives the audience the feeling of listening into other people’s conversations. Some of them are funny and entertaining, some of them are painful and heartbreaking. All the conversations of those people who live in different houses, neighbourhoods, possibly countries have one thing in common: exploitation of sex.

Every phone conversation is nothing like the previous one; it brings a very distinct energy onto the stage and to the audience. Tears, laughter, awe… it’s a rollercoaster of emotions. In a space of seconds you can go from one to another.

Charlene Gleeson, Clare Monnelly and Aoibhéann McCann each play a number of diverse characters. An angry wife calling her husband’s lover just to find out the awful truth, the TV hostess who is being fired for getting old, the girl who has left home looking for a better life just to end up as a pole dancer, mother whose daughter was bullied into killing herself,… are just some of those stories.

Some conversations are really difficult to listen to. But those stories are the ones that mostly need to be listened to and actually heard. Unlike in the play, in real life it’s too easy to close our eyes and keep moving on with your life. Especially if it doesn’t concern you: it´s happening to somebody else equals to not happening at all.

It’s great to finally realise that Ireland’s becoming a country where talking about sex isn’t taboo anymore. An absolutely sold out show yesterday, is just another proof that sex sells, and sells well… but in a different context this time. Red Bear Productions brought to our awareness this play, which is absolutely filled with wit, fun and entertainment, but, at the same time, it draws out attention to something much more important. All those subjects discussed by the actresses over the phone, that’s not a play, that’s real life. And just as we sit down to watch another play, somewhere somebody is being bullied, is being treated inappropriately, is selling sex over the phone just to be able to provide for their families.

Plays like Harder Faster More must exist to open publics’ eyes onto something that we deliberately would shut our eyes on in real life.

There is still one more performance of Faster Harder More, written and directed by Tracy Martin, tonight before it closes. So get your tickets booked before it’s too late. For more info, please visit: http://fringefest.com/festival/whats-on/harder-faster-more

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Filed under Harder Faster More, Red Bear Productions, Smock Alley Theatre, Tiger Fringe Festival 2015