Tag Archives: theater

The International Bar: Triangles

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If you are in a bad need of a post-fringe detox (as one might easily be since there is such little time to get over one event just before another one is about to hit), then I’ve got just the right play for you. Sad Strippers Theatre presents Triangles.

Written by the company’s very own Ciara Smyth and performed by the other two company members, the play is an indescribable kaleidoscope of games that the characters play on stage and that entangles into one whole piece. Chair (played by Laura Brady), Muesli (played by Meg Healy) and Bread (played by Ciara Smyth) entertain themselves by re-enacting different scenes that they might have witnessed.  After the end of  each scene they repeat it again and again each time adding something new or switching characters. The result is always the same though usually unpredictable.

In this crispy fast-paced thirty minute piece, the three actors give a performance filled with an incredible amount of energy, joy and laughter. With the bare minimum that the performing space in the International bar can offer, the three actors did an amazing job to create the atmosphere. Not relying particularly on lights, set or props (as the majority of other productions usually do), the show was completely stolen by the beautiful and very skillful acting. The characterisation was remarkably strong. I was reminded of cartoons where each personality, even though blown up immensely, still remains believable, carefully crafted and quite unique.

Triangles is a great example of a story where the third isn’t necessarily the odd one out, but the wheel that keeps the show (and the laughter) rolling. So, if you find yourself stranded and lost on the path in between the two biggest theatre festivals, allow yourself a break and pop into the International Bar for a bun and a blast. Triangles is closing on September 30th. For more info or to book the tickets: https://www.facebook.com/events/1665535230426742/

 

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Filed under Ciara Smyth, Sad Strippers Theatre, The International Bar, Triangles, Uncategorized

Theatre Upstairs: Bob & Judy

“…And it is here that we are, in some pain and with no guarantees, working out our destiny.”

– Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Theatre Upstairs and Fast Intent present the world´s premier of Bob and Judy, a devised play written by Gerard Adlum and directed by Sarah Finlay.

Somewhere on the very edge this universe there is Judy (played by Nessa Mathews). Judy is a misfit. She lives alone in an old house with an abandoned garden. She doesn’t have any friends. When she was a small girl, Judy loved to look at the stars… she knew everything about them. Well, maybe not everything but definitely more than a normal kid would.

Today is Judy’s birthday. Nobody knows about it. But that’s ok, Judy doesn’t really want anybody to know. In addition to all, she does not like surprises.

Bob (played by Gerard Adlum) is a delivery man at Science World. He is a good man, a kind man,.. Bob is also a misfit. He goes on about his work. Every day Bob does his best to deliver all sorts of gifts and purchases that people have ordered. And it might seem as an easy and quite meaningless job, but not to Bob. That’s all he has.

Today the last purchase that Bob has to deliver is a very special gift for Judy.

And everything could have played out just fine for both Bob and Judy if it wasn’t for the comet fast approaching this little green planet of ours.

This is the second play by Fast Intent that I was going to see. After A Man in Two Pieces, which absolutely blew me away, my expectations were very high!

Bob and Judy opens very beautifully with Judy meditating on stage and suddenly springing into dancing. There is also an old radio which quite organically turns on and off by itself to highlight certain moments of the play. One of the loveliest touches happens when a romantic song starts playing pushing Bob and Judy into a dance. The constant interference noises just add to the whole atmosphere of the unknown and mysterious.

Just like in the previous play, the characterisation is particularly strong in this piece. Both Bob and Judy come off stage as real people who struggle to connect with other people, to build relationships, to move on from the tragic past. Their every day effort to fit into this world brings out the very human beings that they are. The effort is different for each one of them, though. Bob is a joyful person, who always tries to find the positive side of things. On the opposite hand, Judy is a very private person, who keeps to herself and prefers a solitary and closed life style to anything else.

The absolutely beautiful way in which both actors portray their character makes the audience sympathize with Bob and Judy and associate with their struggle. The ending of the play might come as a certain relief. Just before the comet hits the Earth, we see that Bob and Judy are finally happy and at peace (as much as it’s possible in this situation, of course). Dying in loneliness would be such an awful and unfair way to die, at least they have each other.

Along with the radio transmissions and music another very important moment of the play is the lighting effects. Thanks to some very smart decisions about lighting and brilliantly written dialogue, there are moments when you really do feel like there is a naked sky above your head. And you can’t help but look up from time to time to see if the stars are really there…

This highly enjoyable and inspiring production is an absolute must-see. Some plays attract because they have some really fringy characters or touch risky subjects; Bob and Judy is a play about two human beings looking into the sky and wondering about the meaning of life. It’s as simple and as complicated as this.

I am absolutely delighted and looking forward to chat to Fast Intent early next week about their theatre company and the play Bod and Judy. So, keep an eye on this space! In the meantime, go and book your ticket for what promises to be an unforgettable evening in the theatre. Bob and Judy runs until August 8th, for more info or to book tickets, as always: http://www.theatreupstairs.ie/bob-and-judy

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The Smock Alley Theatre: A Night in Two Halves (One Night Stand)

The Night in Two Halves, also known as One Night Stand took place yesterday in The Dublin´s Smock Alley Theatre. This night wasn’t just any random night in a theatre, but a very special occasion took place. The very talented, creative, hard-working and simply amazing Bitter Like a Lemon Theatre Company sets for the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The play that they are going to perform doesn’t need an introduction: Leper and Chip.

Leper and Chip is a very special play. It’s not something that was made by Bitter Like a Lemon Theatre Company, it is what made this company. Some few years ago Lee Coffey, Amelia Stewart-Clark and Connal Keating came together to create a whole theatre company to make this one play possible (at that moment). Little did they know how famous and very much loved by everyone who’s seen it, it will be. A play by a true Dubliner about Dubliners is now going to Edinburgh to conquer the hearts of the Scotts, which, I have absolutely no doubt, it will.

So, as the title suggests, last night was split into two parts. During the first bit we had the opportunity the see extracts from other works by Bitter Like A Lemon:

Lawrence Falconer with Peruvian Voodoo (written by Lee Coffey).

A scene from A Boy Called Nedd (written by Emily Gillmor Murphy)

A piece from a new play Slices (written by Lee Coffey)

A piece from a new play about bullying (written by Emily Gillmor Murphy)

A staged reading of a scene from Angels of Mercy (written by Lee Coffey)

The first part closed with a very exciting scene from Howie The Rookie (written by Mark O’Rowe) performed by the original Howie Karl Shiels.

Interestingly enough, I could say that out of six pieces I had already seen four of them before. But it didn’t stop me from enjoying every single extract once again. Having seen (heard?) the extract from Angles of Mercy during the Abbey’s Scratch Night, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the one last night in The Smock Alley, for example.

That is another thing about theatre nights like that. Last night happened to be an almost full-house night with friends and friends of the friend and other theatre goers and theatre lovers who came to support Bitter Like A Lemon. All those people did’t just come to another theatre show to get the value for the money paid, but they came because they cared and they wanted to show it to everyone involved in the production of Leper+Chip and other plays by Bitter Like A Lemon.

The second part of the show was all about  the play Leper+Chip. I’m not going to review it, I have already done so. In addition, this piece is not a review, once again it’s an experience sharing. Evenings like this one happen once in a lifetime. But there is definitely something about seeing the same play for the second time. Leper and Chip is one of those plays that the more times you see it, the more beautiful details you encounter. Both actors: Amy and Connall give one hundred percent of their energy. And even though I felt like the speed might have been a bit slowed down, the play didn’t lose a bit. It’s still a crazy roller coster of emotions.

So, watch out Edinburgh. You are in for a big treat this festival. For more info, or to book, please, visit: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/leper-chip

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Filed under Bitter Like a Lemon, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Leper+Chip, Smock Alley Theatre

WeGetHighOnThis Theatre Collective

We Get High On This Theatre Collective is an extremely talented group of three people who united together to make theatre happen. Quite human, beautiful and challenging theatre, I must say.

Even from its very name We get high on this, the collective already makes a bold statement: whatever your drug is, ours is the theatre. This is what we love, this is what we want to do.

Caitríona Daly, Caitríona Ennis and Eoghan Carrick are indeed a collective, who immediately clicked together when they first met during their years in the famous UCD DramSoc. Three amazingly talented people, three creative souls, came together to write about people… real people, real human beings that live, and breathe, and laugh, and cry, and suffer, and make mistakes. Because, who doesn’t?

So why a theatre collective and not a company? You might ask and so did I. The answer is quite simply: it’s not a company, because nobody is in charge, nobody is the artistic director and the associate director or… they are all equal, they all have  equal rights and those who are writing today might be directing or acting, or even designing, tomorrow. Even though there are three official members of the collective, there is a good number of people who the they frequently collaborate with. Ste Murray, recently appearing in their new play Panned in Theatre Upstairs, being just one of them.

Since the birth of WeGetHighOnThis, the meaning of “collective” has slightly changed for its members. With each new production the three of them try to focus more and more on what they are really interested in and what they really want to show to the big audience; what sort of current (or not so current) issues they want to be talked about.

Whenever it comes to writing a new play, it mainly is about producing something fresh, something new. “Psychosis”, says Caitríona Daly. “People, it has always been about people. Honesty about real emotions and what they can do to people”, adds Eoghan.

Gender doesn’t make any difference in their plays. They write about people in its very human nature, be it a boy or a girl. Anybody can play anybody. Characters are not being fit under anybody’s standards or expectations. They are all human beings telling their stories to the world. Those stories are primarily about human experience that one might have with somebody else, or even with one self, especially with oneself.

We Get High On This is currently working on their new play “Panned”, written by Caitríona Daly, directed by Eoghan Carrick and starring Ste Murray. “Panned” had its first sold out preview last night and it’s opening on Thursday, July 16th.

For more info or to book tickets (if you haven´t done so yet!), please, visit http://www.theatreupstairs.ie/panned

Keep a close eye on this space as I am currently in the process of lifting the curtain on Panned. I had an amazing opportunity to talk to Caitríona Daly, Eoghan Carrick and Ste Murray about the play. So, those loyal readers of mine will be in for a surprise. The play sounds absolutely amazing and very original. Take into account only the fact that Ste Murray plays not 1 or 2 or even 5 but… 18 characters! I shall say no more until the next article.

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Filed under Theatre Upstairs, We Get High On This Theatre Collective, Panned

The Gaiety Theatre: The Field

“There’s another law stronger than the common law. The law of the land.”

The Field by John B Keane is, probably, one of the most known of all Irish plays. In addition to that, this year The Field celebrates its 50th anniversary since the first production in The Olympia Theatre, in 1965.

Those of you who have never seen a production of The Field or read the play might still be familiar with it thanks to the 1990 film version starring Richard Harris and Sean Bean.

The story is as old as the world. Southwest of Ireland. 1965. An old widow (played by Catherine Byrne) has a piece of land that she wants to sell by the auction. She goes to the local auctioneer (also a pub owner, played by Stephen O’Leary) and asks him to organise the event for her. In the meantime, her neighbour and the local bully known as “The Bull” McCabe (played by Michael Harding) finds out that the land has gone on sale. He thinks that he and only he has the right to buy this land for he has grown up next to it. He spent all his life waiting for the moment to attach this little piece of land to his own. On top of that, The Bull doesn’t want to pay the asked price because he has been renting this very land for the last five years and believes that he had already paid half of the price anyway. So he goes to the auctioneer and bribes him not to spread the word about the coming auction. But a foreigner appears (an Irish immigrant from Galway) who is also interested in buying that piece of land. His plan is to build a factory there. He is ready (and more than eager) to pay above the asked price.

“The Bull” and his son Tadhg (played by Ian Lloyd Anderson) aren’t happy with the newcomer in the village. They decide to scare him away. Things get a bit out of hand and the businessman dies. The local priest (played by Geoff Minogue) and an garda (played by Conor Delaney) try to investigate the crime. But nobody would come forward, nobody would testify against the McCabe family. Even the Bishop (played by Seamus O’Rourke) comes to the village and pleads anyone who knows anything to come forward. Nothing works. The Bull succeeds at both buying the land and getting away with the murder.

The play was very beautifully done! Much better than I expected and much better than anything else I’d seen in The Gaiety (probably the only theatre that sells pop corn) before.

The cast was outstanding, except, maybe, for the main character “The Bull” who had to be scarier. His bigness and power just didn’t come across as much as it should have, taking into account that the whole village was afraid of him. On the other hand, The Bishop appeared very briefly, but his monologue was very powerful and reached every single one of us (even those sitting in the upper circle). A very special word goes to Fiona Bell, who played Mamie Flanagan and Mark O’Reagan who played “The Bird” O’Donnell. These two characters were incomparably different to each other and both actors showed a very high-class acting.

The set was one of the best I’ve seen. It’s normal that such a big theatre to produce a decent set for its productions. But the set of The Field was quite something. I especially liked the the bit outside when The Bull is talking to Tadhg in the field. The tree, the moon and the moving clouds just made it all so vey real. The whole atmosphere just gives you the needed eerie feeling that one would have on such a night alone in a field.

The Field closes on May, 30th. Catch it before it ends. For more info or to book: http://www.gaietytheatre.ie/index.php/whats-on-buy-tickets/calendar/john-b-keanes-the-field/569

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Theatre Upstairs: Peruvian Voodoo

Drugs. Sex. Rock-n-Roll. Without the Rock-N-Roll part. Dublin style.

From the moment I started watching the play one word appeared in my head: “Magnolia”. If you’ve ever seen that film and enjoyed the structure, then this play is for you.

Written and directed by Bitter Like A Lemon’s Lee Coffey, “Peruvian Voodoo” presents you a story about one ordinary for everyone, but quite an extraordinary for the characters of the play, day in Dublin city. The thing is that “the day” is described by three different characters from their correspondent points of view.

The day starts with O’Brien (played by Laurence Falconer) going to work just to find out that his literary submission was rejected once again by the publisher he works for. Good for O’Brien he’s submitted it to another publishing giant, Behan. O’Brien gets half a day off, which he decides to spend with his young wife. If only she answered the phone. He goes to a local pub instead for a pint, but the things don’t really go the way he’s planned.

The second character we meet is Murphy (played by Finbar Doyle). He is a beggar. But a nice guy. But a beggar. Murphy is a man with a sweet personality who had made some bad choices once, so now he lives on the street. After getting some food from a shelter, he has to leave the place (and there is a good reason why) to eat it somewhere else. Just as he sits down and is ready to nibble on his sandwich, Murphy notices a mother with a small daughter. Beggars, as well. He feels bad for them, they look like nice people. He shares his food with them. Not long after “the goatee” appears, the father of the girl. He is a real scumbag. One word after another,… today is not Murphy’s best day.

The third character is Behan (played by Kevin G. Olohan), the publisher. His day is worse than anybody else’s. From the very morning he can’t get a decent blow-job and … well, we all know, how bad things can turn out from there. He decides to cool it down in a local pub, but his best mate, who usually goes there with him, doesn’t want to go to the local, so they go somewhere else. One thing after another leads to taking drugs and setting the whole place on fire… A bad day, indeed. But it’s far from over yet.

Quoting Kevin C. Olohan the play is basically about a day “that went wrong from the very beginning”. But, obviously, it’s much more than that. Three men. One Day. One city. One story.

Being second of Lee Coffey’s plays, you can see the obvious progression from Leper and Chip. The plot has got stronger, so did the narrative and the character-building. On the other hand, the play kept to very typical of Coffey’s fast pace (nicely compared to a moving train) and the way of delivering lines. The characters don’t interact with each other at all. They recite their monologues towards the audience and only the audience.

The language is still strong and explicit. But it has its beauty! The beauty of not being afraid to say exactly what you want and the way you want. Any piece of modern theatre must challenge its audience. The era of comfortable plays is quite over. Nobody is there to listen to elaborated euphemisms and the sweet way the author had sugar coated everything just to make the audience comfortable.

A special word goes to acting. All three performances are completely different. It’s clear that all three actors worked out their characters to perfection.

Technically the play does have its difficulties, first being the extremely fast pace. Each of three actors gets about 20 mins to tell their story, but those 20 mins must be so incredible intense. The next characters starts while the previous one is still speaking. It’s essential not to miss your cue. You missed the fist line, that’s it. The moment is gone. Apart from that all, after the monologue (or before it) the two actors who are not performing have to sit completely still for forty minutes, which is a challenge itself. And even though there was a couple of mess ups, not for a second it distracted neither the audience nor the actor performing.

The set was very smartly done, as well. Very simple, but suited perfectly the plot. Some very smart directing decisions were made around breathing (yes, breathing!). It gave a very distinctive tone (together with the red light) to when the narrative jumped from the reality to dreaming. In other words: a great piece of theatre. Really different from anything else running on at the moment in Dublin. Catch it before it ends on May, 30th in Theatre Upstairs. For more info or to book, visit: http://www.theatreupstairs.ie/peruvian-voodoo

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Filed under Go and See, Irish Stage, Peruvian Voodoo, Theatre Upstairs

The Abbey Theatre: The theatre of War Symposium 2015.

The 3-Day Symposium of War at The Abbey Theatre is now officially over.

According to the Abbey Theatre, the symposium welcomed 250 guests and 31 speakers from all over the world, who either worked or came from (post) conflict zones like Rwanda, Palestine, Israel, Afghanistan, Belarus, etc. There were also speakers from Ireland and Northern Ireland talking mainly about The Irish Civil War, The Lockout of 1913, The Troubles.

Apart from the discussions and talks there were two staged readings in the evenings, one musical performance and during the three days of symposium visitors could also go and see “Oh My Sweet Land” production on The Peacock Stage.

I personally attended all the talks and the reading of “Shibboleth”. I didn’t go to the reading of “Returning to Haifa” because I had seen it already in The New Theatre, Dublin, earlier last year. Nevertheless, I was more than happy to meet Naomi Wallace and Ismail Karim Khalidi, people who adapted “Returning to Haifa” into a play. Naomi presented another of her plays, which was read out by Khalidi during the symposium.

I would like to start my review with a quote by Luke Gibbons, the very first speaker of the Symposium: “There is always something left over from the past and it is the future”. 

I was at the first Symposium at The Abbey last year (The Symposium of Memory) and I can’t simply compare these two events. I was a bit concerned before booking my 3-Day ticket because, even though I am very much into current affairs, I don’t really know that much about the current situation in Palestine, let alone Africa. I was just scared that I would be sitting there not understanding what people are talking about. I don’t want to sound ignorant, but I am afraid that many people who live in the 1st world country and live comfortably don’t really know what’s going on outside of their comfort zone/home countries. We are marching for not wanting to paying water charges, Palestinians don’t even get enough water to drink. It’s sad, but it’s the reality. That reminds me of one of the speakers, Ruwantie de Chickera from Sri Lanka, who before beginning her speech explained that she had been asked to talk about her home country because the audience might know very little or nothing about it.

Anyway, I did go further and booked my ticket. And I was indeed very excited about the 3 days. I really enjoyed all of the speakers and their subjects. I was also very glad to see some of the last year’s speakers, like Stacy Gregg.

The amazing thing about this symposium was that many speakers come from different backgrounds and have all sorts of experiences. It was a theatre symposium, so the main focus was, naturally, on theatre makers. But there were also such speakers as Ray Dolphin, who works for United Nation’s Office of Humanitarian Affairs.

Ray’s talk was about Israel’s West Bank and occupied Palestinian territories. He presented a very clear and easily understandable map of the current situation between Israel, Palestine and Gaza. He explained the building if the wall that would separate Israel and Palestine. The conditions in which the Palestinians have to survive (like not having access to cultivate their own land) and the total separation of Gaza, where citizens are held almost like prisoners in their own country.

Or Professor David Cotterrell, who talked about his amazing and heart-breaking experience in Afghanistan. He was commissioned by the Welcome Trust to go to the country and produce an installation called Theatre as a part of War and Medicine Exhibition.

More about his experience can be found here: http://www.cotterrell.com/

One man in particular deeply touched and inspired me with his talk: John Scott. He is a choreographer in Dublin. Scott works with refugees and asylum seekers coming to this country, people who had suffered some sort of trauma. He not only helps them to express their pain and emotions and previous trauma with dance and movement, but he also communicates with them and helps them to find a way to legally stay in this country. He takes this “invisible people” and creates a piece of art, a piece of theatre aimed to help them.

Some speakers (to be exact 6 of them) came as part of one big project: Ariadne Project. Ariadne Project is appointed to finding female theatre makers who either work or come from (post) conflict zones. At the moment the project counts with 6 of them: Hope Azeda (Rwanda), Dijana Milosevic (Serbia), Frederique LeComte (Burundi), Iman Aoun (Palestine), Patricia Ariza (Colomiba) and Ruwanthie de Chickera (Sri Lanka).

Project Ariadne is unique not only because it deals with theatre in war zones, but also because it’s created by women. Even in peaceful countries we have very few female theatre directors,  so how inspiring should it be to see and hear somebody talk about their absolutely unique experiences and, more importantly, their passion for what they do and their desire to change this world for better. And theatre is a way of changing it. Theatre is a way of saying something that can’t be just said out loud. Theatre is a way of expressing emotions that couldn’t be expressed in any other way. Theatre is a way to bring different communities and different peoples together.

I’ll talk very briefly about only one example, Frederique LeComte from Belgium talked about her experience making theatre in Burundi. She has worked with all kinds of people: the ones who had been tortured, imprisoned for political reasons, raped, whose families were killed, on one hand, and on the other, with people who tortured, killed, raped. With the consent of both sides she would produce a play involving both of them. The torturer and the tortured one would work side by side to create something to overcome their pain, their past, their emotions.

Federique LeComte worked during the time of war in Burundi, she has staged very provocative and very risky types of plays. “The types that you could be killed for right during the performance” putting it into her own words.

On the very last day of the symposium I was particularly interested in hearing one speaker: Vladimir Shchrban from Belarus. Vladimir was the only one who spoke with a translator. He spoke in Russian, so I was particularly happy about it. It really does make a difference hearing somebody talk and hearing somebody talk in their native language.

Anyway, Vladimir spoke about his theatre company Belarus Free Theatre. As Vladimir said it himself, after the USSR split up in 1991, Belarus has obtained a dictator. Vladimir along with a couple of other free spirited young people wanted only the best for his country and this “best” he saw in freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of mind, freedom of being able to express your opinion without being arrested or killed for it. So he created a theatre company. After the company was born the first thing they needed to sort out was what they wanted to make plays about. The answer was simple “tabu topics”. And it looked like they had it very easy because every topic was tabu in Belarus.

Vladimir and his company has suffered a lot during the 90s and 00s. Both the artists and the audience members were persecuted for getting involved in this sort of art. Belarus Free Theatre had difficulties finding venues for the upcoming productions, they would take anything they could rent or secure: it was somebody’s house, in a forest or in even in a sauna. As most of the plays were staged illegally the company needed a legal reason to be there, so that’s where there creativity once again found itself. They would pretend that they were hosting a wedding, a friend’s party or even a family gathering.

For obvious reasons, and as Vladimir puts it himself, most of their plays are “passionate but short”.

Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed was the staged reading of “Shibboleth”  by Stacy Gregg. There is a hope that The Abbey Theatre will produce this play at some point soon. I’ve always been very interested in Northern Ireland and The Troubles. So needless to say that I was more than keen on hearing its first reading. The reading was preceded by a panel discussion “Barriers”, in which Stacy Gregg (together with another Northern Irish artist Brendan Ciarán Browne) talked about the peace wall in Belfast and the responses and reactions to barriers and boundaries.

The play exceeded all the expectations. It was smart, it was funny, it was very Northern Irish. I absolutely loved the cast and their portraying of the characters with thiсk NI accents. “Brick by brick by brick by.”

All talks were very informative and very what’s called first-hand experience. Of course it would be childish of me to think that I know more about conflict zones. I don’t. But this symposium was a great opportunity to start knowing more about this world we live in. It was a great way for me to be introduced to some amazing projects, theatre companies and theatre makers, both nationally and internationally. It’s a starting point. And I’m very much looking forward to the next (unfortunately last) symposium in 2016.

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Filed under Performing arts, The Abbey Theatre, Theatre, Theatre in Ireland, Theatre Lovers, Theatre of War Symposium, TOWS2015