Snow Angels at Project Arts Centre

Snow Angels
Snow Angels
For Snow Angels, in the Cube at Project Arts Centre, the audience sit on three sides around a set that combines realistic, solid structures – walls with light fittings and doors that opened – and more abstract design – the floor and sofa are made from wooden pallets and there is a door lying on the ground. An image of falling snow is projected onto to a screen tilted like a ceiling and suspended above the stage. The wide configuration lets us think we are seeing more than we are; a lot of the action happens off stage.

When the play begins we are introduced one-by-one to the three characters. They have just moved in together and this is the first morning they have woken up in their new home. We get to know them and their relationships to each other slowly. We learn a lot about Sebastian (Michael Hough) from his younger brother Oscar (Ger Hough), who mocks Sebastian’s “gritty, inner city novel” but also seems afraid to knock on his door and wake him. Later Sebastian quizzes Oscar about Jim (Des Hickey). Oscar doesn’t say much other than “he’s my friend”. The way he says it however, suggests that Oscar doesn’t have a lot of friends. As a result, the audience are given a number of different versions of each character. There’s the way they are talked about by the others, the way they see themselves and the way they really are in front of us. Everyone is telling stories about themselves but as it becomes clear that they are trapped in the house with no means of escape, these different versions are slowly stripped back and we see the characters at their most base and most vulnerable. While it is intriguing to learn about the characters and watch the relationships between them develop, it doesn’t take us anywhere new. While I was interested in the characters, I never got enough information to really feel for them. There were too many false leads and basic questions left unanswered. I never understood why they had decided to live together.

The ending was also unsatisfactory, so much so that I felt like maybe I had missing something. Maybe I did, but it could also have been purposely left open-ended. There was an air of mystery about the play – the mysteriously locked doors, the characters that are spoken about but never appear, the discovery of a rabbit in the bread bin.

Christine Dwyer Hickey can write great dialogue and she has created three interesting characters. It’s a shame that they so little happened to them over the course of the play.

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A very female Fringe

Half-way through the Dublin Fringe Festival, having already seen six shows (Break, WAGE, Way Back Home, Pondling, You Remember The Stories You Wish Were True and Exit Strategy) I realised that I had yet to see a production that was written or devised by a man. This is partly my own prejudice – though I wasn’t actively avoiding shows by men, I am often more interested in seeing shows by women – but it’s also a credit to the Fringe that there were so many excellent productions by female theatre-makers to choose from. And they really were excellent shows – Way Back Home won the Spirit of the Fringe Award and I’m interested in seeing what Louise White does next. Pondling won the Best Female Performer Award for Genevieve Humle-Beaman and was also nominated for the Fishamble Award for Best New Writing.

Pondling by Genevieve Humle-Beaman
Pondling by Genevieve Humle-Beaman

At the Fringe Awards, the judges said that Best Female Performer was the most difficult categories to decide on because there was such a host of talent on display. I certainly saw some wonderful performances in lots of very different plays but I think the winner was a worthy one. In Pondling, which she wrote and performed, Genevieve Humle-Beaman created a character that was both terrifying and heart-breaking.

Female performers also did very well in Edinburgh this year – particularly when it came to the Foster’s Edinburgh comedy award; Bridget Christie won the overall prize and Adrienne Truscott won the panel prize. Both of their shows had a very strong feminist position. Christie’s show A Bic For Her was described as an hour of feminist comedy…as full of imaginative jokes as it is of righteous anger. Truscott’s show Asking for it took on rape culture and the rape joke. She performed the show naked from the waist down with video installations projected on to her lower body. These triumphs are particularly note-worthy as stand-up comedy is such a male-dominated medium.

Bryony Kimmings and her niece Taylor in Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model
Bryony Kimmings and her niece Taylor in Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model

On the theatre side of the Edinburgh Fringe, Bryony Kimmings’ Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model went down very well, winning a Fringe First Award, a Fringe Review Outstanding Theatre Award and the Arches Brick Award. It is currently running at the Soho Theatre in London. The show was devised by Kimmings and her nine-year-old niece Taylor, as a response to, and fight against, the sexualisation of young girls. Together they created Catherine Bennett, a pop-star who is also an expert on dinosaurs and loves riding her bike. She also has her own songs, complete with music videos and Facebook page. Lynn Gardner described the show as “a call to arms against those who profit from selling thongs to children.”

In the Dublin Fringe Festival, I only saw a couple of shows that were overtly feminist. One of which, WAGE by Fitzgerald and Stapleton, offered discounted tickets for female audience members in recognition of the 13.9% gender pay gap in Ireland. It was a dance piece performed by two naked female performers, who were very comfortable and non-sexual about their nakedness. Even the masturbation sequence was laugh-out-loud funny rather than sexy. I’m not entirely sure what it was about but it was fun and silly and joyful in its incomprehensiveness. I was baffled but I’d had a good time. There was a slightly jarring section at the end when the dancers, now fully clothed, were joined on stage by Justine Reilly, a former prostitute who spoke about her own experiences. There was no room left for audience interpretation here – it was very didactic and a bit preach-y. Suddenly the piece went from incomprehensible fun to unambiguous lecturing and this took away from what had gone before.

While WAGE was alternatively incomprehensible and blatantly obvious, I still felt like it was doing something different in an enjoyable way. DOLLS on the other hand, had nothing new to say. I left the Sunday night performance feeling slightly angry because my time had been wasted. It didn’t say anything new about the female condition and there were sections of the piece that I found boring. With its heavy reliance on lip-synching, DOLLS made its performers nothing more than ciphers to be imprinted on. Perhaps that was the point since the piece was about woman as objects but it failed to move beyond that and just showed me something I already knew, over and over again. I seem to be in the minority though as a lot of people seemed to really enjoy the piece. It won the inaugural First Fortnight award which means you can see it in January and make up your own mine.

I would like to see more feminist theatre, made by men and women. I’m a native optimist who believes that art can change the world (or at least change a few minds), and while women are still being treating as being worth less than men, whether it’s how much they are paid or how much they are listened to, then we need to keep shouting about it. But it helps to build a strong platform to shout from and the Dublin Fringe Festival does contribute to that. It seems like it has always been very female, certainly in the last five years under Roise Goan’s directorship, and that’s a very good thing. I would like to think that hearing women’s voices and women’s stories onstage moves us a step closer to smashing the patriarchy and making a fairer society for all.

All That Fall by Pan Pan

Samuel Beckett is well-known for his very exact set and stage directions. This article about Lisa Dwan’s experience performing Not I at the Royal Court earlier this year, shows how meticulous his stage directions are. Pan Pan are a theatre company who are known for re-interpreting classic texts and making you see them in a new light. The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane, their re-imagined Hamlet included a Great Dane and three actors auditioning for the role of Hamlet, with the audience making the final decision. Their production of A Doll House last year included a Batman costume and a game of Hide & Seek between Nora and her maid. It is surprising then to see that they have chosen to do a Beckett play where re-interpretation is surely off the cards due to strict rules regarding how it is performed. Then the ingeniousness that I have come to expect and enjoy in Pan Pan productions becomes clear – All That Fall is a radio play, so those strict stage directions don’t exist and the company are free to decide how you experience this play.

All That Fall
All That Fall

And as theatrical experiences go, All That Fall is a special one. It is unlike anything I’ve “seen” in the theatre before. Firstly, the idea of going to the theatre to listen to a radio play can be hard to get your head around. It feels like a slightly absurd thing to do and there is a certain anticipation in the foyer beforehand; we are all unsure what to except. When the audience is finally admitted to the theatre, we go into a large room, full of identical wooden rocking chairs. On the seat of each chair is a cushion with a skull on the cushion cover. At the front of the room where the stage should be, is a tall bank of lights. There seems to be hundreds of bare light bulbs above us, glowing dimly in the darkened room. The audience settle into the comfortable rocking chairs, looking around nervously, unsure how or when the play will start.

The play is a sort of “day in the life” and the first half is concerned with a wife’s trip to the train station to meet her husband. She finds the journey a terrible ordeal and her experience is filled with fear and anxiety. We hear her inner monologue as she makes her way along the country roads towards the train station. When she gets there and discovers that the train hasn’t arrived, her worry and confusion increase. It’s a sad story, brought beautifully to life by Áine Ní Mhuirí and Andrew Bennett. The light-bulbs dangling overhead are pretty and other worldly while the lights at the front can be suddenly blinding and completely over-whelming. The lighting and the strange sounds that fill the auditorium are assaults to the senses, separate to the script but complimentary to it. The script itself is engaging and sad but there are jokes and clever word-plays in it too. There are also wonderful images in the text which you are free to focus on because you don’t have a stage full of actors to distract you.

There is something soothing about this piece of theatre. Perhaps it is the rocking chairs or the pretty lights or the disembodied voices. It’s like being a small child again, listening to a story being read to you before bed. It’s also rejuvenating. Unlike most theatre experiences, where you are part of the crowd that makes up an “audience”, sitting in a long rows of seats all facing the same direction, here you are in your own rocking chair, separate from everybody else. It is a more personal experience and that’s part of what makes it so special. At the end of the play, when the lights come up, it’s almost a surprise to find yourself back in the room surrounded by other people.

I enjoyed it very much and I’m really looking forward to Embers, another Beckett radio play performed by Ní Mhuirí and Bennett, which is on in the Samuel Beckett Theatre from the beginning of August. (Tickets available here.) And if you are in Edinburgh during the festival, you can catch Embers on the 24th and 25th August and All That Fall on the 25th and 26th. More details here.

Shakespeare at the Abbey

Shakespeare Season at the Abbey
Shakespeare Season at the Abbey

I am really enjoying the Abbey’s Shakespeare Season at the moment. On Wednesday evening, I watched Marty Rea and Derbhle Crotty play various Shakespearean characters under the direction of Abbey Voice Director Andrea Ainsworth. There was a bit of Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream; we saw Macbeth and Lady Macbeth plotting to kill the king and Beatrice and Benedict trading insults. It was a very enjoyable hour on the impressive King Lear set that is currently occupying the Abbey stage.

The production that goes along with the set is also a treat. It’s a great cast; Owen Roe is a wonderful Lear in kinglyness and madness, while Beth Cooke demonstrates Cordelia’s strength and tenacity despite her slight frame. I also enjoyed Ciarán McMenamin as the scheming Edward and Aaron Monaghan as his betrayed brother. The production is visually rich and suitably dramatic. It’s a very enjoyable show. There are lots of strong, bossy characters in this one. It’s worth catching before it ends on March 23.

Meanwhile, the Peacock is playing host to writer and performer Tim Crouch and his plays I, Malvolio and I, Peaseblossom. I’ve only seen I, Malovolio so far and enjoyed it immensely. Tim Crouch tell the story of Twelfth Night from the perspective of poor, woe-begotten Malvolio, a minor character in Shakespeare’s play. It’s a show that’s funny and sad and will make you feel guilty and uncomfortable. Go see it – you will not regret. Even if you don’t like Shakespeare or are unfamiliar with Twelfth Night, it doesn’t matter – you will still laugh yourself silly at this show.

I, Peaseblossom is the story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as told by one of the fairies. It’s aimed at audience members from 6 years upwards. Both are running until the end of next week and there are evening and afternoon performances.

Treat yourself to some Shakespeare at the Abbey. There really is something for everybody. Book here.

KATIE/MAG

KATIE/MAG begins with a smartly-dressed young woman, laden down with shopping bags frantically pacing the floor. As she forces herself to carry out simple instructions – “Put down the bags. Slowly.”, “Ask for a glass of water.” we get the feeling that something has gone badly wrong.

Over the next hour the young woman, Katie (Amy O’Dwyer) walks us though her life, with help and prompts from Mags (Kelly McAuley), who played a vital role in it. We begin with Katie as a babe in arms and works our way forwards to the harrassed woman at the beginning of the play. As the play zips us past various moments, we see Katie at an unsure four year old, an easily embarrassed 13 year old and moody, rebellious 17 year old. The two actresses inhabit each moment beautifully. They transform fluidly into the different characters. O’Dwyer shows us Katie at all the different ages and moods while McAuley plays all the supporting characters – from the worried Mam to the boring lecturer and lots more inbetween. Often she manages to convey Mags attitude towards these people while she is bringing them to life.

The play gives you a brief snapshot of what’s it’s like to dumped by your best friend in primary school, or to finally start university and discover exactly how far the reality is from your expectations. These snapshots are so true and so well-realised that they leave you reeling with the remembrance of your own adolescent.

The play focuses on the close relationship between Katie and Mags but it also says a lot about women’s relationships with food, sex and ambition. None of these relationships are particularly healthy, but neither is Katie and Mags. And it only grows more destructive as the years go on.

Jennifer Rogers enjoyable script is really brought to life by the wonderful performances by the two actors. This tight two-hander asks a lot of it’s performers and they definitely deliver the goods. The set and props are kept minimal so that the focus is on the actors. They bring emotion and great story-telling to the piece, which is both funny and moving.

It’s great to see women’s stories being told on stage, especially when it is done this well.

KATIE/MAG is part of the Collaborations festival and is on in the Boy’s School in Smock Alley tonight (February 28) and Saturday at 9pm. Tickets are €10/12 and available here.

January Fringe Fuse

Fringe Fuse at Dublin Fringe HQ
Fringe Fuse at Dublin Fringe HQ
In the last year, Dublin Fringe Festival have moved into Sycamore House, which was the home of the Gaiety School of Acting. It’s a beautiful building with fantastic studio spaces with big windows over looking Meeting House Square. And last Monday it was full of people eager to see the new work that was being made there. It was the night of the first Fringe Fuse, a scratch night run by Fringe for theatre makers to show new work. Tickets were €3 and for that you got four short pieces of theatre and some refreshments! It’s going to be a monthly event, on the last Monday or each month and I would definitely reccomend coming along.

The first piece we saw last week was a new piece by Sonya Kelly (of Wheelchair On My Face fame) called Anywhere Else But Here about going to Austrailia to meet her in-laws. It was performed as a monologue, and was funny and endearing. It had a similar in tone to Wheelchair and Sonya performed it with her usual charm.

The second piece was a work-in-progress play called St. Patrick – The Lenged from The Gonzo Theatre Company. It was a play about the writing of the history of St. Patrick and contained some religious stories that I had never heard of, so I actually learnt something from it!

The third piece In Dog Years I’m Dead, all about turning 30 was written by Kate Heffernan and performed by Marie Ruane. It was performed as a monologue but there are plans to include a male performer as well. (As I said these are works in progress.)

The final piece was That Don’t Impress Me Much by Xnthony. It was performed with a whole lot of enthusiasim and was great fun. It was very difficult from the other pieces and it felt like the audience were just getting into it and then it was over.

The thing that struck me most was that the work was very traditional. There were three plays, with writers and actors (one performed by the writer) and a song and dance routine. This was the first Fringe Fuses so maybe people were playing it safe. I wonder if there were many applications or if people were waiting to see what happened with this first night. The four pieces were definitely in different stages of development but it’s a great opportunity to get up and test out new work in front of an audience. It’s also a brave thing to do and I appreciate the artists generousity to show us their half-finished masterpieces.

The next Fringe Fuse will be on 25 February and the deadline for applications is 15 February. If you would like to apply, email Róise and Emma at emma@fringefest.com with a short description of what you are working on and why you’d like to show it (min 250, max 600 words). More information here and on the Fringe Lab’s Facebook page. Dublin Fringe Festival are also taking applications for the 2013 Festival and all the details are on their website.

Theatre in 2012

I saw a lot of theatre this year, through college in the first half of the year and volunteering at the festivals in the autumn, but I still feel like there’s a lot that I missed. This is not a list of the ‘best of Irish theatre’ in 2012. This is a list of my personal favourites from the year.

Silent, Pat Kinevane and Fishamble
I’ve already written about some of the things I love about Silent but this 90-minute one-man play really is a complete tour de force. The LA Times described it as “Krapp’s Last Tape performed by Madonna” which is a pretty accurate description! A lot of the joy in this piece is found in Pat Kinevane’s performance. His portrayal of homeless McGoldrick, who once had splendid things, is so enthusiastic and full of fun. You don’t expect a story of homelessness and helplessness to be so funny, and this surprise adds another layer of joy to the piece.

Silent was Fishamble’s original Show in a Bag and the minimalist approach to set and props serve the story well. The story is engaging and well-told and touching without being sentimental. I saw it for the first time in the Town Hall Theatre in Galway early last year. Immediately after the show, I was eager to see it again and wanted to bring so many people to see it with me. I haven’t managed to do that yet. I missed it in the Peacock during the summer and in Smock Alley a couple of weeks ago, but I’m hoping to see it again before the year is out. The show is off to Australia this month but will be back touring Ireland in March.

Tiny Plays for Ireland, Fishamble
This is another Fishamble production and it was a fantastically ambitious project that was wonderfully executed. It started this time last year when Fishamble sent out a call in September 2011 for “tiny plays”, no more than 600 words. The response was huge and Fishamble received over 1,700 entries. The final production – twenty-five tiny plays in the space of an hour, on the same set with the same actors – was done so beautifully and so simply that it actually did create a snap-shot of the Ireland. With a clever use of costume and a few wigs, the cast manage to play teenagers, married couples and elder statesmen convincingly. Seeing the quick changes and multiple characters was part of the enjoyment of the production. There was a wonderful mix of comedy and heart-break in the production as a whole, and sometimes even in the same short play.

Because of the huge numbers of entries received and the high quality of the writing, Fishamble put together a second collection of plays and Tiny Plays 2 opens in the Project Arts Centre in March. It’s something worth seeing even if you are not a regular theatre goer or know someone who you want to encourage into the theatre! The little snippets mean that if you don’t like what’s going on onstage right now, there’ll be something different along in a minute. I’m looking forward to the next instalment.

The Mothers Arms, Little John Nee
I saw this show last January in the Town Hall Theatre. It was the first play we went to see as part of our reviewing class and so it was the first thing I had to review for that class. It was a tricky review to write because I really loved the show but found it difficult to find words to describe what happened on stage or why I enjoyed it so much.

I went in to the show knowing nothing at all about Little John Nee and came out a life-long fan. It was a joyous piece of theatre set in a the public house of the title, somewhere in the wilds of Donegal and involved lots of music and a far amount of silliness. Little John Nee is another wonderful performer and a joy to watch as he switched between seven or eight different characters. I laughed my head off and had a wonderful evening. I have yet to see his follow-up show Sparkplug but I am keeping an eye out for it and reccommend you do the same. (It is also nominated for an Irish Theatre Award for great Sound Design.)

Alice in Funderland, thisispopbaby and the Abbey Theatre
I’ll keep this brief because I’ve already written loads about Alice on this blog but it really was one of my favourite things of 2012. I often think of it when I’m sitting in the Abbey before a show, wishing there were twinkling glitter balls on the ceiling. (I’m very partial to a bit of disco ball action.) It was unlike anything else I’ve seen on the Irish stage. It really had more in common with a West End musical in the brash, brightness of the production and the slick song and dance routines. But at the same time there was a very Irish sense of humour running through and some truly beautiful songs.

Boys of Foley Street, ANU Productions
I didn’t find Boys of Foley Street quite as harrowing as last year’s Laundry, perhaps I’d been working in the Lab for two days before I saw the show so I had some idea of what to expect. However it was a visceral and heart-breaking piece of theatre, with fantastic performances.

The time spent in the flat was particularly terrifying. Much of the piece took place out on the street, so suddenly finding yourself trapped in the small flat was a bit of a shock. Seeing the hidden, private lives of people trapped by drugs and poverty made me feel helpless. The performers so in your face that you felt trapped. It was completely immersive and left me feeling sakend and disjointed.

The final piece of ANU’s Foley Street project Vardo Corner will be in Gypsy Rose’s caravan, which I imagine will have a similar terrifying claustrophobia to it!

A Doll House, Pan Pan
This was the first production I saw in the newly renovated Smock Alley main stage. I thought the round, almost Shakespearean sitting suited it beautifully. I’d read A Doll’s House for the first time last year so it was fresh in my mind. Though it’s one of those plays that I’d been aware of for years. I really enjoyed Judith Roddy’s Nora – her manic energy and childish glee in the early scenes of the play were wonderful to watch and captured Nora’s character beautiful. Pan Pan manage to be both playful and academic in their interruption of classic texts and this was no exception. The nanny takes on the role of academic analysing the play but also plays games with Nora instead of her small children.

Pan Pan have a gift for putting their own unique and memorable stamp on classical plays. For example when I think of Hamlet, I think of a Great Dane called Toby and their production of Everyone is King Lear in Their Own Home means that when I see King Lear at the Abbey next month, I’ll probably walk out with a song about “a little mouse with clogs on” stuck in head. And I will probably always hear some of the lines from A Doll’s House in the Batman voice. In a glorious twist, Torvald goes to neighbour’s costume party as Batman and when he has his confrontation with Nora, he is still in full Batman mode. No matter how familiar you are with a text, PanPan force you to see it in a fresh way. But despite this playfulness, they also have a devotion to and respect for the text. And this was seen in the climax of the play when the actors lay in separate pools of light, on opposite sides of the stage and said their lines slowly and carefully, so that all the meaning had time to sink in and we could see their relationship slowly folding itself up and disappearing. It was beautifully done.

That’s my short (and very late) wrap up of my favourite 2012 theatre. I’ve been lucky enough to see some wonderful work already this year and I will be writing about that here soon.

Dublin Theatre Festival 2012: The Boys of Foley Street

I find Anu Productions a little bit frightening. I admire their work hugely, I think they are one of the most exciting Irish companies making work right now but I would still be wary about recommending an Anu show to someone. I would be wary about going to see it myself! I was glad I went to see Laundry in last years Dublin Theatre Festival because it felt important to recognise what went on in the Magdalene laundries and to act as a witness to what those women went though. It was also a beautifully realised piece of theatre that was heart-breaking and incredibly moving.

Despite that, I was still in two-minds about whether to see The Boys of Foley Street. I wasn’t sure if I was up to it. I knew it was out on the streets and I knew World’s End Lane, situated in the same area, had been a fairly harrowing experience. My first few shifts as a festival volunteer were at the Lab, doing Front of House for the show. Seeing the audience members coming back looking a bit subdued and slightly shell-shocked didn’t really reassure me.

Then I got a ticket out of the blue and it’s hard to say no to a free ticket so off I went. It knew a little bit about what was coming from hanging being in the Lab but it was still quite an experience. The performers take you away to a different time and place and you’re pulled out and moved through those places quickly, urgently. The women in Laundry shyly beckoned you into a room, here you’re told to “Move! Move! Faster!” and you do it because you don’t know what else to do. You want to be a good audience member so you do what you’re told; stand where you’re told to stand, look where you’re told to look. And all this doing and looking makes you complicit with the terrible things that happen on on the streets and in the back alleys and the flats.

Everyone is looking after themselves as best they can and because that’s not easy, they don’t have time to look after anyone else. As an audience member, it’s all too easy to slip into this frame of mind.

The cast is so good and there performances so accomplished and so natural that it all feels frighteningly real. Laundry felt like it was performed by ghosts but here the performances are more corporeal and much more in your face. You go into a grim little flat at the back of Foley Street and it feels like going back in time. You only spend 10 or 15 minutes there (maybe more, maybe less – time is hard to judge as you’re are ordered in and out of cars and rooms and lives) but it’s a heart-breaking glimpse into these people’s lives. You can see their past and their future expanding on either side and it’s depressing and so hard to see. Leaving is difficult because you feel like you are betraying them but at the same time, you are so glad that you have the option.

The characters and stories explored in Boys of Foley Street feel very current. After the show, it can be difficult to tell the different between the actors and the inhabitants of the area. It stays with you when you leave.

The work is important and political and terrifying at times. The actors, who performed 20 times a day for the entire length of the festival, astound me. Their performances are so strong and so believable that it feels like a privilege to witness it. Next year I will be first in the queue to get a ticket for the final part of Anu’s Monto quadrilogy. I’m looking forward to it already.

Absolut Fringe 2012: White Rabbit, Red Rabbit

I went along to this lunchtime show because I was intrigued by the premise – an actor arrives on stage, opens an envelope and reads from a script that they’ve never seen before. It’s an interesting idea and the Fringe had a list of interesting actors that were taking part. However White Rabbit, Red Rabbit is more than just an interesting acting exercise. The script uses the actor as a way for the writer to connect with the audience. The play was written by Nassim Soleimanpour, an Iranian citizen who had never left his country. He was 29 when he wrote the play and had never left Iran because in order to get a passport, citizens must do two years of military service. The play was his way to travel and experience the world outside Iran. He gives out his e-mail address a couple of times in the script with requests to send him photos and reports of the performance.

It is a play about choice and responsibility. It’s also about rabbits. It’s a play that asks a lot of the actor performing it but there’s also a lot of audience participation. As the actor and audience changes everyday, I imagine the show is very different each time it’s performed. This may have made it a difficult for the Fringe Awards judges – it was nominated for Best Production.

I was there on the opening afternoon and our actor for the day was Stephen Rea. He performed with a slight knowing smile at the audience which said ‘these are not my words’, especially when the words in question were expressions like “super cool” or “groovy”. He took the comedy and the seriousness of the script in his stride. The audience seems a little bit more nervous than he did. I often think that Irish audiences aren’t very good at participating in a piece of theatre, and I include myself in that. We don’t have any sort of tradition of it in this country. We are not generally disruptive people. In these sort of situations, I find myself wanting to be a “good audience member” but not always sure what was required of me.

I really enjoyed the play. It threw up a lot of questions about the world and was about more than just the art that was taking place in that room. I would have liked to see it again, for lots of reasons. I wish I’d spoken up more in the performance.

You can read about Peter Daly’s description of the performance from the actor’s point of view in the Irish Times Festival Hub.

Absolut Fringe 2012: Just in Time

Playground
Playground – a collection of immersive and game-based performances.
Just in Time is one part immersive theatre and one part real-life video game. I took part in one of the last testing stages and really enjoyed the experience. It’s fun to imagine yourself as a time-traveller with a secret mission, hurrying down alley-ways and looking out for clues! The people I saw in Temple Bar at the weekend on the same secret mission, all seemed to be enjoying it as well.

Just in Time, which finished on Sunday, was part of the Playground strand in this year’s Fringe. I took part in another Playground ‘performance’ when I put in my headphones and wandered around Grafton Street as part of the subtle mob As if it were the last time.

There are a couple more Playground shows on this week:

My Fair Mot, which promised to have you speaking like a proper Dub by the end of show, sounds both fun and educational!

The other, The Oh Fuck Moment, sounds slightly terrifying to me, but I’m not a big fan of audience participation and I don’t like telling people about my embarrassing stories so I’m not really their target audience! It’s been getting great reviews elsewhere, including a four star review in the Guardian where Lyn Gardner says it’s nothing to be afraid of!