Irish Theatre is having a bit of a musical moment right now. Alice in Funderland opened at the Abbey last night, the gang from Avenue Q have taken over the Grand Canal Theatre and in Monster/Clock is playing in Smock Alley.
Monster/Clock is about a monster called Toby and the story is told through music puppetry. I haven’t had a chance to see it yet but from the trailer it looks like a beautiful show.
Meadhbh McHugh is a mezzo-soprano and part of the four part harmony chorus that act as the narrators of the show. I asked her to share her thoughts on the show and how she is enjoying being part of it.
Grainne: Tell me a little bit about the play and your role in it.
Meadhbh: Monster/ Clock is the first production by Collapsing Horse Theatre Company and it expounds the life of Toby (Jack Gleeson), a castigated monster and apprentice watchmaker who must flee his workshop in pursuit of his kidnapped guardian and the show follows his various encounters and escapades using puppetry, comedy and music.It’s an adventure story and it has a lovely philosophical moral to the tale. I sing mezzo-soprano in the four part harmony chorus. It’s such a fun show to be involved in!
Grainne: How has the audience response been?
Meadhbh: They are loving it, I think! The feedback has been so positive, it’s brilliant! We’ve got some great reviews and quite a lot of people are now coming to see the show twice and even three times! Word-of-mouth is also huge and it seems to be appealing to people right across the board. I think Monster/Clock has something very different in that it’s a very unique blend of many elements and therefore it’s inventive and very theatrical. The Smock Alley Boys School Theatre is also a beautiful space and an experience in itself.
Grainne: How did you get involved in singing and acting?
Meadhbh: I just recently graduated from Trinity with a degree in Drama and English. I’ve always loved theatre since as far back as I can remember, and particularly musicals. I was involved with lots of musical societies and stage schools growing up in Galway and hence I’m a big fan of the old razzle dazzle! Musicals seem to be having a real moment in Irish theatre right now, which is great! Monster/Clock is not a traditional style musical but the music element is a big part of the show. It’s an original choral score for four voices by the incredibly talented Dan Forde. It’s very different to what you will hear anywhere else. As regards the future, who knows?! I’m really enjoying this show, I’d love to continue performing and combining singing and theatre.
Grainne: How do you find working with puppets? Is it easier or harder than working with real live actors?
Meadhbh: It is so much easier working with puppets than actors! I’m joking, obviously the actors are operating the puppets (what, you say? Those weren’t real swans?!) and in Monster/Clock we don’t try and conceal that. Part of the joy for the audience is watching both the actor and puppet, and still investing in the puppet. As Raymond Keane of Barabbas told us, the puppet will always win an argument. People love the puppets, they want to get on side with them. Puppetry is a brilliant way to enchance storytelling and Aaron Heffernan’s puppets in Monster/Clock are really beautiful. We don’t operate puppets in the chorus, but act as a link between the audience and the imaginative puppet-world. I sort of believe they are all real now too!
Monster/Clock has added three extra performances next week due to popular demand. It’s on in the Boy’s School at Smock Alley and there are two shows on Friday and Saturday (Friday at 5pm and 8pm, Saturday at 3pm and 8pm). Next week there are evening performances on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. You can book tickets here.