Fringe so far.

I am having a very enjoyable Fringe Festival. I’m enjoying my volunteer shifts and seeing lots of shows. I was getting a bit worn-out at the end of last week. By Friday evening I had completely run out of steam – poof, no more steam let, but I took it sort of easy over the weekend and am ready for another busy week.

My first shift was on the first day of the Fringe, Saturday 5th September in the Absolut Fringe Factory in Smock Alley. The Factory is actually quite impressive. It a great tall space and has lots of nice Absolut Art winding up the wall.

Here’s what I’ve seen so far;

Anatomy of a Seagull
I saw this while I was volunteering and I was glad I hadn’t paid for my ticket. I didn’t really like it. I’d seen the National Youth Theatre version of The Seagull at the Peacock the previous week so I was maybe a little bit too familiar with the script. I also found the production too naturalistic for my taste. Possibly Loose Canon’s style is just not my kind of thing but this my problem not theirs. They won Best Production at last year’s Irish Times Theatre Awards for Phaedra’s Love, which I hated. I will give them another try. I’m going to see Jesus has my Mom in there and has beaten her up real bad on Thursday.

This is Not a Drill
I also saw this as part of a volunteer shift and I loved it. It wasn’t one that I was planning to see, I hadn’t even really noticed it in the programme so I’m delighted that I got to see it by change. It was very much my kind of theatre. Beautifully written, dark and funny, it was non-naturalistic and a bit weird. I loved the very clever use of technology (yes I am a big nerd but that kind of thing. I grabbed the director afterwards to find an explanation for some of that wonderful tech.) and repetition that really worked. It reminded me of Forced Entertainment (mainly Speak Bitterness) and Katie Mitchell’s production of The Waves that I saw at the Dublin Theatre Festival last year. I left the performance feeling joyful with a big smile on my face, which is an odd way to leave a show about the end of the world! I saw it again the next night because I had the same shift again, but I was happy to watch it again.

The Blanch
Very funny and sometimes a little bit disturbing. Three actors played I-don’t-know-how-many characters and live music and sound effects were provided by onstage performers, it was fantastic. The characters were a little bit terrifying, especially since the house lights were up for the entire and they did look straight at you. It was wonderfully weird and very contemporary.

Who is Fergal Fitzpatrick
I went to see this show because a couple of people had recommended it to me. And I did like it but I think my expectations were maybe two high. It was interesting and a clever way of looking at theatre, what we expect from theatre and ways to distort these expectations. I think it was a high-concept show that was well executed. It didn’t really have me leaving the theatre with a big smile on my face but it did make me think.

Le Clique
I can’t really offer a full review of this one because I only saw the second half of the show while I was volunteering. What I saw was still fantastic – the physical abilities of the performers is breathtaking, but they are also entertaining! One of my jobs on the night was to look out for people taking photos because this is strictly prohibited. I didn’t see anyone with a camera in their hands. All I could see were rapt faces gazing up at the magnificent spectacles taking place on stage. However, it’s hard to pay that much attention to the audience when there’s a girl being spun around by her partner onstage, he’s on roller-skates and she’s just has her foot hooked around his neck! It sounds impossible but it happened. I was ready to duck, just in case she came flying at me!

Power Point
I saw this on Sunday evening. I think it was probably their 8 consecutive night performing. I got the feeling that the actors were a little off, that timing wasn’t quite right. It felt sloppy to me. It was a strange show anyway – the audience are at a business seminar and the people giving the seminar are a little odd, and having a few problems of their own. I loved the set-up, it’s a great idea but for me, it just didn’t quite work. Maybe I just didn’t get it. There were just too many things happening that didn’t fit together and I left feeling a bit disappointed.

The Legend of Zorroco
This was a one-woman show and I was the preview performance. It was a Spanish nanny who really wants to be the Rose of Tralee. It was very funny and I think it will get better as the week goes on. It had loads of little jokes, mostly at the expense of the Irish, a great story and a sympathetic main character. I really enjoyed it.

Iris Brunette
Another one-woman show but very very different. Where Zorroco was one woman behind a microphone, Iris Brunette had many lighting and sound cues and used the audience to stand in for other characters in the story. It was a slightly troubling tale about love in a weird, post-apocalyptic world. I liked it a lot.

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