Yesterday I went down to the Project Arts Centre after work hoping to get a ticket for Fishamble’s new show The End of the Road. This production is part of the Made in Temple Bar festival and when it opened for booking at the beginning of July, the tickets went fast and I wasn’t quick enough! But luckily, someone wasn’t able to make it yesterday and I got their spot!
I was interested in this show because I like the work of both the writer Gavin Kostick and the director Louise Lowe, and I wanted to see this promenade performance. The play is about the life of one man, a guy called Bill and the audience drop in and out of different moments in his life, gradually building up a picture of this man and the life he’s led.
The audience are in groups of eight and you are lead out the back of the Project by Bill’s Mam and Dad and left listening to a recording of interviews with the real Bill. This is interweaved with the voices of the actors who play Bill in the production. Each group is accompanied on their tour by their own Bill. The fours actors (John Cronin, Ronan Leahy, Michael Glenn Murphy, Robbie O’Connor, below) are all different ages but each one plays Bill at every age as we visit scenes from his life.
Bill acts as a tour guide for his own life as he leads his audience down towards Fishamble Street and shares his story with them. He does this through conversation with the audience and also by letting us see it happen for ourselves. There’s an intimacy shared between the audience and the actors, you find yourself in real places – cafes, waiting rooms, pubs – ease-dropping on other people’s conversations, but these conversations happened 30 years ago. It feels a bit like time-traveling as you walk down the street and see horses and people pushing old fashioned prams and bicycles. There are boys and girls in uniform playing old-fashioned games. It feels like you are taking part in something, not just seeing a play.
The performance is well-balanced between the pieces on the street when Bill talks directly to the audience and the scenes inside the various buildings. There are wonderful performances from the main actors and also the extras on the street and I really appreciate how the performance does not talk down to the audience but allows us to piece together the story for ourselves as we more back and forwards through time.
It’s a wonderful piece of theatre where the fourth wall is completely dismantled, along with a few other theatre traditions. We’re not really dealing with a nice, neat piece of fiction – instead it’s the messy reality of someone’s life. It is performed with respect for the subject matter and the audience and you come away feeling like you have experienced something a little bit special. My only complaint was that there was no time for applause or acknowledgment. My little group ended the show standing at the end of the road, applauding the horse. He didn’t seem that bothered.
Even though it’s fully booked, it’s definitely worth trying to get a ticket for. The Project Arts Centre are running a returns list from 5.30pm each day and there are 8 shows a night until Friday. Shows are at 5.45, 6:05, 6.25, 6.45, 7:05, 7:25, 7.45 and 8.05pm. I arrived at 5.30pm and managed to get a ticket for the 6.05pm show so it’s worth giving it a try.