Theatre this November

It’s only a month since it all ended but the Dublin Fringe and Dublin Theatre Festival already seem like a long time ago. We’ve had time to get our breath back, catch up on sleep and recover from too many late nights in the festival clubs. It’s easy to be over-loaded with choice during the festivals and sometimes it can feel like you’ve over-dosed on great performances and fantastic productions over the two months. A hiatus might be necessary but if you stay away too long you might miss something wonderful!

One of my favourite shows from the last couple of years Pat Kinevane’s Silent is back at the Peacock until December 7, Wed-Sat at 8pm. I went to see it for the second time when it opened last week and once again, it was absolutely fantastic. Pat’s performance is captivating and Tito McGoldrick’s story of how he came to be living on the streets feels like a story that needs to be told, particularly now and particularly at this time of year.
Go see it but book soon because it is bound to sell out!

Silent is a Fishamble production and they have another show currently on tour that I am looking forward to seeing. Guaranteed! had a short run last summer when it played to packed theatres and was followed by passionate post-show discussions. This is Colin Murphy’s imagining of what happened on the night of the bank guarantee. Michael D Higgins said “I think people should come and view it. It’s very, very good.” He’s the president, I think we should do what he says. It’s playing in venues all over the country throughout November and there are more details here.

And for something completely different – those theatrical mavericks from Sheffield Forced Entertainment are in the Project next week (Thur 21 – Sat 23 November) with a new show called Tomorrow’s Parties. Forced Entertainment shows are usually strange and sometimes a little bit difficult but they are always interesting and I always find something new and wonderful in them. They’re always a little bit different and also very much themselves.

Void Story

Void Story is performed by four actors, sitting behind tables, behind microphones and sound desks while the visuals are supplied by a series of badly Photoshop-ed images projected onto the big screen. And they still manage to bring the audience completely into their world.

My favourite kind of theatre is one that creates it’s own little universe, that recognises it’s futile to chase after realism and instead brings a brand new world to the stage. One of the things Forced Entertainment do a lot is show the artifice of a theatre production; so actors will change their costumes on stage, or wear signs with their character’s name or profession so you know who they are pretending to be.

In Void Story, the background images don’t try to be true to life. Each one is obviously made from three or other photographs stuck together haphazardly, so you can clearly see the joins. They are like the collages children make. They look completely off-kilter and are completely right for the story.

The story is about a day that goes from bad to worse two characters, Kim and Jackson. They are shot at, forced to leave their home, chased through sewers by armed guards, kidnapped, threatened by small children, attacked by bears and worse. But this is all told with a wry humour. I had forgotten how funny Forced Entertainment are but within the first five minutes, the audience were laughing enthusiastically at poor Kim and Jackson’s misfortunes. Though by the end, we’d become quite attached to the pair of them.

I really enjoyed it. It had a wonderful style all of it’s own, and even though it was set in the most depressing and desperate world ever, it didn’t feel that far from reality.

I have finally seen Forced Entertainment and I was very impressed by them!

Forced Entertainment

I first heard of Forced Entertainment when I was studying drama in the UK. One of our teachers didn’t turn up for class one day and because there was no-one else available, a small, old fashioned television was wheeled in on a trolley and we were forced to watch Club of No Regrets. It was like sticking a video on to keep up the class quiet. I was 23 and this felt too much like school. This might be why I took against Forced Entertainment at first.

It was also a really bad recording, with terrible sound quality was terrible on an old, crackly video. It was not the best introduction to any theatre company.

We saw other clips of there work though out uni, though they were always badly made recordings on old video tapes. I didn’t understand what they were trying to do and it all seemed a bit too self-indulgent and annoying.

Then I read Certain Fragments and suddenly it all made sense. Tim Etchells’ essays made it clear what they were trying to do, much better than the old, badly-made recordings. And I really liked the ideas and the performance texts from the Forced Entertainment shows. It made me want to see how they combined all these elements and what they actually did onstage. That was almost three years now and I still haven’t seen them live.

But this is about to change! I’m going to see Void Story in the Project this Thursday. I’m a little bit excited about it. I’m really looking forward to it and have been since I bought my ticket last November. There’s going to be a post-show discussion and everything!

The show itself sounds strange and interesting – “part radio play, graphic novel, science fiction and fable” and I think it will be a much better introduction than my previous one!

There are still tickets available if you want to come and see for yourself what they’re all about. And if you’re not in Dublin, you can still enjoy Tim Etchells’ imaginary event calendar at Vacuum Days.