Reviews, finally

These are the shows that I did manage to see at this year’s Fringe;

As you are now so once were we
Two weeks after seeing the show, I finally get the name right! I’ve just been calling it the play by The Company . As I said before, I really enjoyed it. It made me smile and I left the theatre feeling very joyful.

I loved the set – loads and loads of cardboard boxes stacked up on top of each other, used to represent everything from fast food chains to tall buildings, chairs or bank machines. (Photos available here.) It was a fluid, ever-changing set – in more ways than one as the cast argued about what a particular box actually was.

That tongue-twister of a title comes from Ulysses and the show was based on Joyce’s book. Not so much on the story (not that Ulysses really has a story) but more on the essence of the book, which meant it was about Dublin and a day in a life in Dublin. Or in this case, a day in the lives because the show also used Ulysses ever shifting narrator, but here the narrators disagreed with each others and events were re-told from a difference perspective as the narrative control was passed from actor to actor.

Like Joyce’s book it was very much grounded in time and place. It was set in Dublin in September 2010, name checking people and places that exist here and now. And like Joyce’s book, it made me notice things about Dublin that I hadn’t seen before.

It was also a very funny show which is properly why I came out smiling. I really hope it gets another run at the Project because I would really like to see it again!

Camille O’Sullivan: Chameleon
I saw Camille in the Fringe Factory on the Friday night and enjoyed her show as much as ever. I did sort of miss the Spiegeltent but this was smaller, more intimate venue. I managed to get a seat up front, close to the stage – I’m not sure how it was further back because the stage seemed quite low and the room was long and narrow.

Camille O’Sullivan is a tiny, little thing. She came onstage with about six layers of outfits on and she was still a tiny, little thing. These layers were gradually discarded (the Chameleon part of the title?), so there were lots of different costumes and characters throughout the evening!

Greatest Hits
Last Thursday I was Greatest Hits in the Project. The programme described it as “Operatic Electric sound theatre” which is accurate but for some reason I was expecting more story. Possible there were stories in the songs that I missed because the vocals were often drowned out by all the other instruments. This might have been an opening night glitch. Probably for a lot of people it wouldn’t be a problem at all but my brain likes stories! The songs were interesting to listen to and it was a strong visual piece as well, with a wide variety of instruments and other sound making devices.

Greenstick Boy
I mostly saw this because it was on on Saturday lunchtime when I didn’t need to be somewhere, and because I like going to see one-woman shows and seeing how other people do it. I also liked the promo image.

I find Bewley’s Cafe Theatre a bit of an odd venue. It’s so small and they leave all the tables out even when they aren’t serving food, and the last couple of times I’ve been there it’s been weirdly empty. It’s not a theatre I feel particularly comfortable in but I did enjoy the performance. It was a simple enough piece of theatre but very well performed by Maggie Cronin who had to compete with the buskers on Grafton Street and did so fantastically! She definitely held her own and held my attention throughout the play. I liked the set and the change it underwent through the play.

It did reenforce something about my own taste in theatre – I like shows more when the actors acknowledge the audience and the fact that they are performing in front of other people. Maybe this is why I love Camille’s cabaret and enjoy stand-up so much. Even though Greenstick Boy was delivered straight out to the audience, it was done in such a way that the character was almost talking to themselves or to another off-stage character in that fictional world.

So I enjoyed the play and learnt something from it – pretty good for a Saturday afternoon!

And that was my Fringe. I had a ticket for Cappuccino Culture on Saturday night but decided to stay in the Project and watch Trilogy again instead. But that show is a whole other post!

Fringe Awards or the great shows I missed at the Fringe

The winners of the 2010 Fringe Awards can be found here. The only one that I actually saw was the Best Production winner As You Are Now So Once Were We. (Review coming soon!)

The Show in a Bag crowd did very well, both in terms of nominations and winners. I didn’t see any of them because I was working but hopefully they will all have a life after the Fringe and I will get a chance to see them again.

Other shows that come up a lot are Berlin Love Tour, World’s End Lane and Heroin, which won the Spirit of the Fringe Award for TheatreClub.

World’s End Lane seems to have been the show to see this year. It gets a couple of mentions in the Irish Times Fringe round-up, as well as winning Best Off-Site Production. Louise Lowe is very good at making off-site and site specific work. I loved Anu Production’s Basin last year. I saw it by accident because I happened to be working at it, and I’m so glad I did. It was almost an art installation and the audience could pick and choose what they wanted to see. I’m sorry I missed World’s End Lane this year, though that Irish Times article makes it sound like a terrifying experience. It’s part one of a series of pieces about the area and I am not going to miss the rest!

Closing night of the Fringe

It’s the last day of the Fringe and I haven’t managed to post a single review! They are coming. They’re half-written here and there and I will post them eventually. Too late to actually encourage you to go and see anything, but I generally saw things when they were all ready almost over. I like reading reviews of shows I’ve seen as well as shows I’m thinking about seeing so hopefully other people feel the same way!

My head has been full of Trilogy this week. It still is, really. I saw the show of Thursday and I will try to find the words to describe how it moved and inspired and energised me very soon. I loved it. I loved the show itself and I loved being involved in it. It was more than just a few evenings of rehearsals, it was about finding your place on that stage, in that group of people and I really got a lot out of it. I haven’t always found it easy to write about that process while it was going on – I’m going to need a few days to digest it all. I’m looking forward to having time to do that now and at the same time, I’m really sad it’s all over.

The Fringe is almost all over as well. All that’s left is the closing night party and the Fringe Awards where a whole of shows I didn’t see are nominated. Despite that, I still want to be there for the awards. I’m really tired today but it feels important to be there to celebrate the end of a fantastic Fringe!

One down, three to go!

I was feeling very nervous arriving at the theatre yesterday evening. I had butterflies in my stomach and I actually felt a little bit sick. It was nice to check in with the other women and find out how everyone else was feeling. I felt better after we did a couple of quick run-throughs. And then suddenly it was time to get in positions and open the doors to the audience.

We had a final pre-show pep-talk after the last run-through. Standing on stage, in a circle, naked, it was really nice to really see all the different bodies. When we’re bopping around on stage I’m usually too concentrating on the steps to see people. It’s amazing how quickly this nakedness has become normal. Last night, Nic was giving direction to the stage manager. But she was naked.

The actual performance was amazingly, a lot less scary than I expected it to be. The most nerve-racking part for me was standing in the wings listening to the audience coming into the theatre. At that point, it really feels like there is no turning back but once the show actually started, my nerves calmed down almost immediately and I felt ready to go onstage!

And it was great. Much easier than I was expecting. I was aware of the audience as a whole but not really as individuals and it was over much too soon. I think the audience enjoyed our little dance though I haven’t been talking to anyone about it.

I’ve heard a couple of people saying great things about the show. One was an e-mail from a work colleague that was waiting for me when I came into work this morning!

And now, I’m off to the theatre again. To another sold-out show. If you’re thinking about coming to see it, get your tickets now from http://www.fringefest.com/event/trilogy.

Trilogy Rehearsals

We had our last Trilogy rehearsal last night. It was in the Project Arts Centre where we will be performing. It was a full dress and tech rehearsal. We called it our Undress Rehearsal and it went really well. The show opens tonight and the first night is completely sold out. I will be naked in front of a lot of people tonight. I’m nervous but not totally freaking out.

My body is sore from all the dancing which is fast and energetic. I tried to run for a bus last night and got about two yards before my legs started to cramp up. Being naked with the rest of women is no longer a big deal. Nic and the rest of the women organising it, were very gentle when it came to slowly getting us out of our clothes. It was done in stages with people setting their own pace. The heat in the room and all the dancing helped. It made sense to take off a couple of layers of clothes when you are so hot and sweaty! They made nakedness normal and fun! Everybody should do the hokey-cokey naked at least once in their lives.

I’m really enjoying the whole experience. In a way, I’m looking forward to getting onstage tonight because I want to get the first night over with. Once I know what it actually feels like to be naked in front of an audience like that, it will be easier to relax and enjoy it.

If you’re thinking about coming to see the show, get your tickets fast! As I said, tonight is completely and the other three nights are selling fast.

Is it really only Monday?

As usual, the Fringe is completely kicking my ass. There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day; my flat is a complete shambles – there are clothes and dirty dishes everywhere; I’m snacking a lot because there’s isn’t time for meals and I feel like I’m running on empty a lot of the time. Or more accurately, I’m running on sheer adrenaline because I’m actually loving it! But it has been very quiet around here despite my best intentions to “blog the Fringe”.

To be fair, the festival did have a head start. It started without me. I was wandering around Florence and eating wonderful Italian food and drinking amazing wine, while the big opening spectacular was going on. I loved Italy, I just wish I could have been in two places at once because I did miss things that I would have loved to see.

I got back to Dublin a week ago, arriving in Dublin last Monday on a dark, wet, miserable evening and I was so tired I could barely stand up. I was back at work the next day and had my first Fringe shift that evening and I haven’t really stopped since. I had shifts with the Fringe almost every day last week, I saw As you are now so once were we one night and Camille O’Sullivan another night and enjoyed both very much. There will be reviews very soon, I promise. I had a farewell dinner with my parents who moved to Spain last Friday and I’ve had Trilogy rehearsals every night this week. I’m very very tired. But it’s all wonderful and I’m having a great Fringe, I just think I’m going to need about a month to recover from it all.

Trilogy

Last night I went to my first Trilogy rehearsal. There were 30-40 women sitting around a room, feeling nervous and a little apprehensive. None of us really knew what to expect, what we would be doing over the next 3 hours or if we’d actually be able to go through with the final (naked) performance.

The organisers, Nic Green and her cast, were very gentle with us. We started out sitting in a circle, introducing ourselves, explaining why we were there and what had drawn us to the project. There were lots of different reasons. Women had come along to confront their own body-demons or to celebrate their bodies because they felt they finally felt good in their own skin. A lot of people said it was because dancing naked on stage was a good way to challenge themselves, others because they liked to be naked in a non-sexual environment and this felt like a rare and wonderful opportunity to do that. There were women who wanted to just do something crazy or who wanted to work with other women. A lot of people said how nervous they were, that they weren’t really sure why they were there.

I think I covered some of my own reasons in an earlier post; because I felt it was an interesting thing to get involved in, because the show sounded like something I would be really interested in. That’s why I sent off the e-mail to Kate saying “yeah, I’ll do that.” I think I was actually there last night, just to prove to myself a little bit that I can do this.

I am really nervous about being naked on stage, not because I have a problem with how I look naked but because I feel it will make me vunerable. The Project is a reasonably big venue and Dublin is a pretty small town. It’s very likely that I will meet people afterwards who will have seen the show, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

So, yes I’m nervous, but I’m not backing out. And there are lots of reasons that I am determined to do this; 1) I’d feel like such a coward if I gave up and I got a couple of friends from roller derby to sign-up to do it too which is an added motivation to stick with it; 2) I know that I will feel really proud of myself for doing it and 3) the rehearsal yesterday was the most incredible fun! The dance is fun and lively, the song we’re dancing to is fantastic and it looked brilliant. Everyone in the room was having a great time.

After we introduced ourselves, we did a quick, silly warm-up and then started learning the dance. We all stayed fully clothed yesterday and just concentrated on learning the steps and getting to know each other. It was a really great three hours. I left the rehearsal yesterday really buzzing from all the dancing and all the great women I’d meet. I miss working in a group like that. I’m heading out to the second rehearsal now. I’m not sure if we’ll be expected to get naked today, but I’m looking forward to it anyway.

Project Brand New shows at the Fringe

There’s a lot of crossover between the Fringe festival and the last Project Brand New this year. Probably because the deadlines for the two events were only a week apart, so a lot of people probably applied for both. And probably there are shows that didn’t make the cut for Project Brand New and vice versa. Not every piece of theatre would fit the criteria for both.

Here are the shows that did:

Delicious O’Grady – the tragicomedy about the famine. I think this was already a fully developed show and we just saw small scenes from it at Project Brand New. It was also very funny!

I Love Guns – I really liked this piece at Project Brand New but feel like I didn’t really get it. It was stark and beautiful and I want to see more of it!

My Life in Dresses – I’ve already mentioned this show and the lovely blog that accompanies it. I saw a poster for the show in Oxfam on Georges Street today, which felt like a very suitable place for this show to be advertised!

My Body Travels – This was one of my favourite pieces from Project Brand New and I am so upset that I’m going to miss the full length version. It’s only on for one night of the Fringe and I am coming back from Italy that evening. The 20 minutes we saw at PBN were completely memorising and I’d love to see how it translates into a hour long show. If you can, go see it on Monday September 13.

Neuropolis – I think this show was still in development when we saw it last May and I’m interested to see what it became after that. It was a strange bit of theatre but very intriguing. Worth seeing just to try and figure out what it was about.