Sunday, February 27, 2011


Socrates didn't write anything down. Like a lotta folks, he wasn't overly gone on this new-fangled technology of 'reading'. He claimed it ruined one's memory and turned your mind to mush. Luckily Plato and a couple of playwrights of the day were a bit more progressive and had absolutely no problem with writing whatsoever, which is how come we know today that Socrates ever said anything at all.

But he had a point. The knowledge we have in our minds is very different from the knowledge we have in our libraries.

Consider this bit out of Huxleys' Brave New World

He was digging in his garden–digging, too, in his own mind, laboriously turning up the substance of his thought. Death–and he drove in his spade once, and again, and yet again. And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. A convincing thunder rumbled through the words. He lifted another spadeful of earth. Why had Linda died? Why had she been allowed to become gradually less than human and at last … He shuddered. A good kissing carrion. He planted his foot on his spade and stamped it fiercely into the tough ground. As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport. Thunder again; words that proclaimed themselves true–truer somehow than truth itself. And yet that same Gloucester had called them ever-gentle gods. Besides, thy best of rest is sleep and that thou oft provok'st; yet grossly fear'st thy death which is no more. No more than sleep. Sleep. Perchance to dream. His spade struck against a stone; he stooped to pick it up. For in that sleep of death, what dreams? …

You cant dig and read Shakespeare at the same time. If you're going to dig and contemplate death and think about Shakespeare simultaneously then you have to have the stuff inside your head. A head can only hold so much, and it takes a lot more programming time than the time it takes to write or print or download from the interweb, but I do think that the above passage illustrates that really learning things results in a more complete understanding of, and a more complete relationship with, the content.

As a bloke like as what has learnt plenty many songs and plays,- (to the point that he can regurgitate the words accurately and in the correct sequence, in spite of an all-encompassing terror,) I feel I know what I'm on about. I think that this process, for me, explains my addiction to thayture and thayture related shite. There is, or should be, a mental dedication to the work which is greater than that of 'second-take' mediums such as TV or fillums, and also, there is an almost atavistic respect for the human performer ( who shares the room and air with us) that we do not have for the slickest, most perfect, most believable recorded stories.

Now, I do get that recording things and methods of recording have a value, inestimable value in some cases; but the ubiquity of recording methods and devices and playback mediums must, in some sense, devalue things*.

*and perhaps also stuff.

I'll try to explain:

When Munster beat the All-Blacks in Thomond park there was no video coverage of the event because it coincided with the launch of Ireland's second television station, (RTE2) and they needed all the cameras for that.

When John Breens' play: 'Alone it Stands', was in its' first rehearsal, I was working in Limerick for RLOtv, and we made a programme about the upcoming play and the original match. The lack of any real record (there was about 8mins worth of grainy amateur footage) was bemoaned by many we interviewed but one team member (off-camera) had an interesting point of view;

"Nobody filming it, sure that's part of it... Nobody filmin' it, that's great, that's why people talk about it... nobody filmin' it made it the best game of rugby anybody ever saw... if we had film of it there wouldn't be the same stories, if we had film of it and you could see the match and then it wouldn't be so impressive..."

I remember this point of view set me a-pondering.

The lack of a recording turned that rugby match into a 'You-would-have-had-to-have-been-there' thing, and so it was recreated a thousand times over orally to attentive audiences in pubs, on park benches, and at kitchen tables. The event itself was an unprecedented and significant one, but the human element of it's recreation elevated it again to a mythic status.

Theatre and live music are 'You-would-have-to-had-been-there' things.

There is something different, something better, about actual human generated music and actual human generated stories that makes up for the absence of perfect studio sound or greater believability. As an Art College mate, (from the Careys' Road, who I dragged along to Waterford Youth Theatre's 'Our Town') remarked: "Play's make you think more". They do, and it's great. But there is no way to capture it.
There is no way to record that special feeling with any degree of accuracy. You would have had to have had been there. That's the point.

A play takes so much work that it's understandable that the people involved want some sort of record, something to show for all their industry; but I have always felt that even the most well-shot video recording of a play cheapens it. It places the actors and the stage on the same flat screen that Hollywood blockbusters, and high-end content, edited to the nanosecond, come from and unfavourable comparison is inevitable.

The projected performances, that are necessary for effective stage-acting, seem ham-fisted and ridiculous, and instead of being a 'You-would-have-to-have-had-been-there' thing, the play becomes something that you can watch later, if you feel like it, and talk all the way through (and comment to your partner "She's no Meryl Streep is she?").

As an atheist, with thayture as my religon substitute and the stage as my altar, I regard the presence of a video-camera in a theatre as sacriligious to my beliefs, and I think Socrates would agree with me. When the Dublin fringe told us they required a videoclip of 'Spinal Krapp', I was absolutely horrified. Now with this play (5 kinds of silence) another Dublin festival has asked for the same thing. I'm only one person in a collaborating group and so I just have to grit my teeth as I did with Spinal Krapp and just do the damn thing but I hate it. They have no right to demand it of us, it's like telling a Christian you want them to spit on a crucifix.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Glass Menagerie

Currently showing in the Belltable is 'The Glass Menagerie' by Tennessee Williams.

This was my second time seeing this particular play in this particular theatre and I have to say that this time 'round was a vast improvement.

The staging, the lighting scheme and the beautifully pictorial arrangements of the actors show a creativity and innovation that accentuates Williams' premise; that what we see is 'a memory' evoked from a long distant past. It was quite beautiful to contemplate, as so many memories are.

There were some fine strong performances too, Sean O' Meallaigh was excellent in the central role of writer/narrator Tom Wingfeild, and Ionia Ní Chroinín was exceptional as Laura Wingfeild, ('Shakespeare's sister).

When I saw this play the first time, the character of Amanda was played (truly terribly) by someone one-off-of-the-telly or something, Maria McDermottroes' Amanda was, for me, a vast improvement on that one. Although on Wednesday night she did seem to struggle at times with both accent and delivery.

Over-all, a Tennessee Williams play is only as good as the version you see,

this one's an absolute cracker and well-well worth takin' in.

The Glass Menagerie. prod by Town hall Theatre & Theatrecorp. Directed by Max Hafler.
Maria McDermottroe, Ionia Ní Chroinín,Sean O' Meallaigh and Marcus Lambe.
Set, Mary Doyle. Lighting, Paul Noble.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Scumbag Millionaire

I spent a good part of this wet miserable Sunday (just gone), standing round in a garage at the back of the South Court Hotel getting rained upon and fillumed for part of Applebox media's up-coming short; 'Scumbag Millionaire'.

I have read the script and it seems to me the lads just want to make an action fillum with cars and fights and kidnappings in it and the storyline, well, the storyline takes more of a back-seat...if you will.

Having said that, the fight sequences and stunt-driving that I've witnessed so far looked like some pretty cool and competent stuff; if it translates well onto 'the screen' maybe they won't really need a strong story.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I saw this fillum t'other night; the whole thing, free and gratis on Google video.

There's probably nothing more satisfying than coming across an entertaining and intelligent comedian who shares your point of view;
pretty cool for the comedian too, when he finds his audience, he can tell'em what they want to hear and they love him.

Not easy to be confrontational, dismissive, honest and loveable at the same time though: when you attempt, as this film attempts, go out in the world and "sell 'doubt'" to people who believe, it's difficult not to come across as a condescending asshole.

Bill Maher's fillum does a pretty good job I reckon of making it's point without being too much of a shit about it.

He's strongest in his confrontations with Church leaders because he has the balls to laugh in their faces when they say anything ridiculous (and religious leaders say ridiculous things all the time).

When the grassroots religious people get laughed at, I have to admit that I found it less comfortable to watch, but Bill is genuinely warm with folk and re-iterates his point again and again: not that there is 'no' god, but that there is no earthly reason to believe anybody who tells you that they 'know' that there is, because they cannot know, and they only ever operate from the flimsiest of evidence.

I watched with a friend who pointed out that an unfortunate element of the essay is that he never encounters anyone who is his argumentative equal. It is impossible to argue rationally on behalf of any set of religious beliefs, so his adversaries are a little hamstrung in that regard, but I do think the essay would have been even stronger if I had seen him ever asked about his own premise, i.e. that Religion is bad and pretty much behind every conflict you might care to mention, with a few more pointed inquiries.

Somebody at some point should have mentioned the horrors commited under atheistic communism, and in conflicts, religions may exacerbate the way groups of people view themselves as 'different' and 'separate'- but it is in no way correct to suggest (as was suggested in the concluding montage) that Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland are actually in conflict about the minor differences in their respective Religions.

I still completely agree with this film and found the style a lot warmer than Richard Dawkins' God delusion. Where Dawkins' might say 'How do you know that?' or 'Surely you can't believe that?', Mr Maher will just laugh in your face and say: " Get the f*ck outa here, that's the lamest sh*t I ever heardin my life! Puleeeze!" which in a strange way seems more polite.

Go figure.

Watch d'fillum.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Mai Opinions

This Wednesday I went to see 'The Mai' in the Belltable
by Changingtimes Theatre Company.

I went with the notion of writing about it, but after seeing it, I found I didn't really have much to say.

There had been dropped lines and prop failures and melodramatic emotional outbursts that didn't make any sense to me...and I really didn't remember much else about it apart from the set was pretty good.

When pressed for an opinion on it, on the phone, I said that I 'wasn't really the target audience', and that this was probably a 'good play for a teacher called Blaithín, whose sisters were all teachers'...

The nerve of me says you...and who do I think I am anyway?

Now look;- part of it was definitely Gender-bias. There is only one male in a sizable cast and of course he's a 'one-dimensional absolute selfish geebag of the highest order ' and I was there the first night, a few things went awry a few times and the story made no sense. There was some lovely set-pieces of dialogue and description in both the writing and performance, but over-all I was dissatisfied.

Now there's no point in doing a 'niggles vs giggles' peice unless it's a fair fight: so I reckoned I just wouldn't post at all. Then on Thursday, a 'female person of the opposite gender like as what I know' attended the very same show and this was her tuppence 'orth:

I really liked the set, the walls were great and I like what they did with the picture - and thought it itself was a good choice.

The script was great, very woman-y and not to everyone's tastes, but clever and honest and touching and very very funny I thought.

Production-wise, well they're obviously amateurs and the acting was touch and go, but you know what? everyone was sincere and endeared themselves to me and I wanted to watch them and for them to succeed, which they did for the most part - mainly because the script was so excellent. The granny was outstanding as well, she couldn't have been played much better by anyone.

That's what I thought. I enjoyed it a lot.

And this is what I said:

That's a lurvelly sweet and positive experience you seem to have had, I'm quite jealous.

There was indeed a lot of heart in the performances and
I agree the granny in particular was done well and a lot of fun

- I reckon for me, the gender thing was definately a factor but script-wise... It must've gone right over my head because I didn't ever figure out what the story was supposed to be.


I mean... she has this big house, that she has built 'for' this guy who left her... he comes back, is 'ridin' all round him' after a while, she is upset by this- then he doesn't tell her she looks nice before they go out.(this seemed to me presented as a greater crime than the affairs) Then she tops herself.


What else happened?

And then I added:

I'm being way too picky aren't I?

Maybe more than one guy or a guy who wasn't the worlds greatest asshole...(seriously what was she supposed to see in him?)

Some really great dialogue, great descriptive set pieces but storywise, for me, it was 'Tesco-value-Brian-Friel-now-on-special-offer-in-the-ladies-department'.

And she replied

Ha, that's a touching synopsis. I don't think you're being too picky at all, you've got me thinking about a few things I just took for granted when I was watching actually.

The 'not saying she looked nice' being a worst crime than the affair is an interesting observation. I suppose in the infamous words of Clare McKeon, AS A WOMAN, I understood that that was indicative of his longterm dismissive inattentive treatment of her in general.

Becoming physically invisible to your partner is a painful process. Getting to the point where not even a token comment is made when you're in a ballgown generally comes after months or years of indifference, sexual rejection, manipulation and, in this case, affairs. It isn't that not saying anything is worse than having an affair per se, it's just a horrible moment of disappointment and sadness and perhaps humiliation that I could easily empathise with - and judging by the gasps and sad tuttings from the audience I wasn't alone.

Evolutionary pyschology has a lot to answer for in this dept... ... But no matter how much you understand it or rationalise it, being socialised into a culture, that still has life long partnerships as an aim, often leaves women in these positions. In The Mai's case this is made all the more inevitable by her own mother's miserable life and the cycle that was started by her grandmother's senseless romantic devotion to the nine fingered fisherman who, by all other accounts, was an asshole.

Before she tops herself , 'The Mai' tells her daughter to do things differently. But we already know at that point that she doesn't. She can't.

As granny says, while sucking on her opium pipe "We keep repatin' and repatin'".

And there you have it...

I guess I'll just stick that in my pipe and smoke it.

'The Mai' By Marina Carr. Directed by Jean Fay. Performed and produced by Changing Times.

Ma Hogan -she knows how to pint...

There's a wee tiny teeny tawny atomy-size of a place just after opening up in the alleyway across the street from the ghost of Javas in Catherine St.

On the outside it's teeny tiny, on the inside it's positively voluminous, how is this possible? Well of course there is a perfectly reasonable explanation.

It's a tardis.
Some timelord or other must have stopped off recently in Catherine St. (for a few scoops) and lost his keys or something.It happens. The minute you go in the door you have to go down a step or two, and you must negotiate steps to the toilet also; what are these steps if not clear evidence of Anti-Dalek features installed by the previous owner?

It's dark and red and low-ceilinged and poky and has a nice almost-nefarious 'Mos Eisley Cantina' feel. They pour an exceptional Guinness and a robust pint of Squeamish so do by all means check it out if you're down that way.

Pleasant game of '45' in Mary Jo'Hogan's

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bishop Brennan and the percieved historocity of objects.

There are things in this world, important historical artifacts.

Much of the most valuable art in the world is valued, well..y'know.. not as 'Art' but actually as historical artifacts.

Their historocity, the idea that they were made by the actual hand of perceived genius is the understood basis for the value of, say 'Mona Lisa' as opposed to a perfect forgery of the Mona Lisa.

I dunno about this. I mean in a way, it's highly illogical captain.

I reckon whatever tangible experience that we actually get from our proximity to the actual brush-strokes of Picasso or whoever is debatable, surely.

If there was any real significant difference between the experience of looking at a perfect fake Warhol/Picasso/Constable and looking at an actual one then we wouldn't have either art-fakers* (they'd never fool anyone) or art-experts (to catch them out).

As Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries was wont to sing at one time: "It's in your heeeead in your hehehhhheeeeadd". It's that thing that we think is there but really aint.

If, for whatever reason, I decided to sell somebody my kitchen table, and if we imagine that the night before the removers came for it, it was stolen and replaced by an exact replica.

The removers take away the 'faux' table and no-one is the wiser.

Subsequently, history develops and it turns out that a very famous world-changing song was written on that table (by a guest at the height of their creative powers).

The table becomes extremely valuable as the very table that "Who put the boop on ma best brown boots" was composed upon, the person who bought it from me is able to auction it off for a bajillion eurodollah, it ends up in a museum.

I die, the person I sold it to dies, and then someone comes out of the woodwork to claim his grandfather was an eccentric who liked to steal things from people and replace them with exact replicas.

This grandson claims that he has the actual 'who put the boop' table. His claims are meaningless. Without a receipt, there is nothing to prove his story and so his table is worthless. The other table is priceless. Value is attached to it really just because that's the table that people, who cannot possibly 'know', have decided to believe in.

Up until the point that it can be proven otherwise people are in no way discontent with the fake. As soon as they are given this knowledge, they can no longer enjoy the object.


Which brings me along to the point of Hitlers underpants.

Unless you are an evil pro-nazi scientist who needs access to his stained underpants (so that you can clone the great Shicklegruber from his origonal stain-cells), Hitlers' underpants have no more actual value than any other very old pair of underpants made by the same company and worn by another man during the same era.

However, in terms of antiques, if you have a pair of what were the Fuhrers 'actual jocks' and the documentation to back it up, there are people in this world who will pay you handsomely for them.

As is true of Hitlers' underpants is true of the relics of St.Van Gogh, Matisse, Dali and whoever. The art we value, we value as relics, markers, signposts in the development of our own culture/aesthetics perhaps,-
Its a strange kind of social ritual that we have and call Art when you think about it.

In my euro-million lottery winning dreams I don't want art and I don't want sports cars, I would happily spend whatever it took though to purchase something that I know exists and regard personally as a lost national treasure, I speak of the really giant photo of Father Ted kicking Bishop Brennan up the arse.

This has to be somewhere... I think it should be purchased for the nation.
It's an effective cultural signpost of our era, wherever it is, can we have it please?

As Indiana Jones used to say: "it belongs in a MUSEUM"

(It or an exact replica, obviously.)


I fell off the fag-wagon in spectacular fashion.
Rather than take the responsibility of my own failure, I've decided to blame alcohol.

What's all this about alcohol? we thought your body was a temple?

Well um.. okay let's put it this way: my body will never be a temple but has been a derelict squat and recently the owner decided to invest in it and do it up a bit.

Unfortunately the crew he hired for the job were absolute cowboys and last night they had their own party in the place and wrecked it even more.

Its time for a few P45s to be handed out and I'm afraid an alcohol ban for the next month is in order...

God help us.

Friday, February 11, 2011

On your marks...

Okely dokey.

Apologies for web absence folk,( I know how you all dote upon my dribbling squibbling rabbling babbling mental rantitude). I haven't been writing about 'Things and also Stuff' because I got some things (and also stuff) of my own going on at the moment.

About me is an air of general business, a flurry of activity if you will; the Five Kinds of Silence project is a big one.
'Word-wise' I got me a whole passel of memorising to be gettin' on with; 'body-wise' I'ne gonna really have to put some work in, (movement and blocking always takes me a long time to get me head around).

I have six weeks to 'quite liderally' get my act together.

As luck would have it, I'm a time-wealthy person, or I should say ,'I was a time wealthy person.

Just to make things extra-difficult, I've decided that my body will have to be, if not quite a temple, certainly less of a derelict squat, and, to this end, I have decided to break completely with my nicotine addiction.

It's all to play for boys and girls.

The Dubbelin venue for the show will be North Strand Tech, (the rather large 'soviet-block style' building that you see on the right just before you come into Connolly,) now known as Marino College. It's not hard to find if you know 'The Five Lamps'. We should be on there for one Monday night (very likely April the 4th).

Hasta Luego.

Monday, February 7, 2011


I'm off to an audition tonight.

Like a lot of people, (I think), I'm not crazy about auditions.

D'd'y'ever notice that when Directors/Auters become established, that they often like to use the same actors again and again? I'm thinkin' of the Coen brothers but there's also Jimmy Stuart and Hitchcock, Mel Brooks (and loads of others that I'll Google in a minute).

I used to think that this was because they'd just become mates on whatever film that they were working on and so just wanted to see each other again,- but now I'm not so sure.

I've started to come 'round to the idea that maybe people like to use the same actors before because, having worked with them; they now know what they can do: and that this is invaluable because this is something that you don't get from auditions.

I think, that what you learn from auditions, is how good people are at auditions.

Now, I'm, pontificating as per, about something that I'm enthusiastic about as opposed to something I'm knowledgable about:

This is all the plays I've ever been in, in my entire existence:

0. Charlie and the Chocolate factory. (oompa-loompa)
2.{EDIT}Mr Rush's gripping courtroom drama. (short, lazy, precocious smartarse)
2. The Plough and the Stars. (Uncle Peter)
3.{EDIT} A complete and Utter waste of time. (Art student)
3. A murder mystery I cant remember the name of (Detective)
4. Sexual perversity in Chicago (Danny)

5. Double Cross (Bracken/Lord Haw-Haw)
6. Sox (a bloke)
7. Rough for Theatre 1 (The Blind Man)
8. The Old Neighborhood (Bobby Gould)
9. Broken Glass (Phil Gellburg)
10.Fahrenheit 451 (Prof. Faber)
11.One For the Road (Nicholas)
12.Faustus (Satan and others)
13.Dreamgirl (David Thewlis)
14.Oleanna (John)
15.Misery (Paul Sheldon)
16.The Threepenny Opera (Matt of the Mint)
17.Engame (Bloke in the Bin)
18.Happy days (Willie)
19.Midsummer nights Dream (Wall)
20.At A Loss (Man with useless wagon for a wife)

Now, that, as far as I can remember, is everything I've ever been in on stage.
The plays in bold are the ones I had to audition for.So what do I know from auditions already? Not much but enough to know I hates 'em.

The arrogance that comes from not having to do too many of them is part of it. I dunno, there is an air of 'Dance Monkey- Dance for us!' and the more amateur the crowd holding them are, the more 'ego-trippy X-factor judges panel' they are about it, or such has been my experience. I have actually been to more auditions than the above chart suggests, it's just that auditions, for me, almost never result in parts. That could be why I hate them or because I hate them; take your pick.

'Anyroad' (as they say in the Coronation St. of my memory) tonight I went to an 'audition' a production I would love to be in. I can safely say I was well-prepared; I had the opening speech memorised and to perfection, in no less than two accents.

Life being life, the director didn't want to see us all do the same bit, he wanted us just to read through the play, changing parts as we went along, and life being life, he gave the opening speech to someone else. Which sounds like a total balls but actually was more much more 'fair' and made me feel less of a total swot.

Besides, I'm already in this five kinds of silence caper, with a fantastic part; so I shouldn't be greedy I spose.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Billy don't be a hero.

I watched two fillums recently: 'The Road' and 'The Social Network', but as I watched them in the house of The Working-Class Heroes - I shan't be reviewing 'em; I didn't give them my complete attention; I'm in no position to comment on them: so I won't.

Instead, I'd thought I'd talk about this 'Five kinds of Silence' thing (that I was on about yesterday) because it is something that I have given my full attention to.

Now, plays are written to be performed, not read, and lots of things change as people go through the process of bringing it alive but I still think it's fair enough to comment on the script as a raw blueprint.


Five kinds of Silence was written by Shelagh Stephenson as a radio play and won the 1996 Writers' Guild award for Best original Radio Play and the 1997 Sony Award for Best Original Drama. The stage version of the play was first performed at the Lyric Hammersmith, London in May 2000.

In Ireland, it was performed by Calypso in Andrews lane in 2004.

Structurally, it's very basic; thematically, it's really quite hard-hitting; narratively, I find it weak, but then again it's not a 'story-telling' type of story.

The characters are: three women who have lived under the constant and brutal repression of one man and the ghostly echo of that one man who remains with them even after they've killed him.

The man, ( Billy to give him his proper name), exists almost purely as a malevolent force. An abuser in every sense, he runs his home as a vicious 'one man Taliban' with complete control. The story of the play is not the story of three women finding the strength to carry out his execution; the story of the play is the story of the three women slowly finding some sense of their own identity once he's finally gone: a tortuous process, that takes place under the angry spectre of their dead,-but-ever-present, oppressor.

It's pretty strong stuff whatever way you look at it, and there are elements of it I am not looking forward to one iota.

The women are more or less realistic, and the ghost-Billy is poetic and surreal.
If you look at the monologue in yesterdays post, you get a sense of the cold and nasty poetry that Billy is made of: there is no real self-justification or warped desire to protect; the classic bully delusion: 'they deserved it', 'they made me do it', 'it was for their own good' e.t.c. gets no voice here.

Billy exists to harm and unashamedly delights in the hurt and pain he creates. The flashbacks to his own horrific childhood help us understand how he became a one-dimensional monster, but a one-dimensional monster he remains, and a one-dimensional monster is all we ever see of Billy.

Thematically, this makes sense if we remember that the Billy we see is the mental legacy of a murdered husband and father. The view of Billy we get is seen through the prism of those he terrified and dominated.

A 'real' Billy might have made excuses, given himself reasons, but the echo of life he has left in his victims is their construction and they know he enjoyed it. They know he enjoyed it and that that was always the only reason why he did it.

The Billy character is a pure sadist because tragically, his family remember little of him but the purity of his sadism. That is all they have ever known of him. Their horrible life, their rotten memories are the horrible and rotten Billy onstage.

Although it's written quite some time ago, I found it pretty resonant with our world today. Incestuous Austrian dungeon-families and books like 'The Room' echoed around my head as I read it.

It's not light entertainment but it is extremely engaging: it's an angry play shouting loudly on behalf of those who 'don't want to talk about it'.

Should be on in The Loft in April.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Five kinds of stagefright.

One night I dreamt I was a dog.

The moon was out, I could smell it.
Ice white metal smell.
I could smell the paving stones,
wet, sharp.

The tarmac road made my dog teeth tingle,
it was aniseed,

and then the lampposts,
glittering with smells, they were,
studded with jewels of sharp sweet spice,
And the stars pierced my dog nose like silver wires.

A woman came out of her house,
sickly the smell of her,
she smelt ofarmpitsandbabies

and a hundred other things screaming at me like a brass band.

I knew what she'd had for her tea.
I knew she was pregnant.
I could smell it.

She didn't look at me, walked straight on by,
thought I was just a dog.

I laughed a quiet dog laugh,
you think I'm a dog but I'm Billy,
I'm me.

I'm at my own door now.
I don't need to see it, it comes to meet me,
a cacophony,
the smells are dancing towards me,
the smells of home.

I'm inside the house now.

Hot citrus smell of electric light.
My wife, my daughters, stand up as I come in the room.

Oh home,
the smells I love,
all the tiny, shimmering background smells,
and the two I love the most,

the two smells
that fill the room like a siren.
One of them is
burning tyres,

And the other one is the
smell of blood,
matted in Mary's hair.

I gave her a good kicking before I went out.

There is quite a lot of things one can possibly do that might turn around and 'bite one in the ass' and writing criticism (for any creative medium that you are working in yourself) is fraught, yes fraught I say with "180 degree-turning and full ass-biting capability", as standard. Thas right boys, there's an ass-bitin' comin' down the line. Oh yes, by Jiminy; we'll see how smart he is now, the tables have turned the shoe into the horse of a different colour, by golly yes!

So, erm yes. I might as well get to it: Ladies and Gentlemen of the on-line commuinitah, I respect your authoritah, and it is with great pleasure that I inform you that I am to appear once again upon the stage myself, this April in fact, with Orchard Theatre Companah.

'In Five Kinds of Silence'.

The lines above are the opening monologue.

Not so feckin' smart now is he?

Whaddya think? : sounds like fun , no?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Killer Kabaret

To me, the very best indicator of a quality show is that it sells out completely and extends it's run; I didn't get to see Killer Kabaret in the unfringed, there wasn't any tickets; it extended it's run and I got to see it last night.

Last night it had to start early, because The Limerick Writers use the same space to meet and they had it booked. I made my way to the Locke Bar through the foulest of weather to see a show that I presumed, between seven o'clock start and the night that was in it, would not be that well attended.

Not a bit of it. The place was black, and once the show started, it was easy to see why:

Of the five participants; any one of them is worth the ticket price; any one of them could play the lead in a serious play, and anyone of them could be the star of a big stage musical. As a group they make a powerful combination.

'Killer' is a straight up musical show along the theme of murder. The cast begin as inmates of some strange Beckett-version of death-row, and throughout the night transform into Killers/victims/accomplices and inmates again through the combination of songs dialogue and dramatic, almost sudden, costume changes. The songs are set-up and given context by short interchanges and snatches of dialogue; it's a treat to see how creatively the team link each piece in turn. The musical accompaniment is excellent and subtle enough that it enhances but never overpowers performers who, without the aid of microphones, must fill the room with voice alone.

It isn't theatre, but it is theatrical, it isn't a musical but it is all music, it isn't a simple group with a song list or a live concept album, it's a heady mixture of all of the above.

It works really, really well. It's creepy, it's moving, it's hilarious. There is nobody I know that I wouldn't recommend this show to. It's sold so well that it's bound to come back again.

Go see it.

'Killer Kabaret': A Bottom Dog production performed by Kathleen Turner, Jean Wallace, Jean McGlynn , Nigel Dugdale and Liam O'Brien. Music by Dave Irwin.

unfringed awards

The show is finally coming back: it has been re-vamped and expanded and scaled-up and will hit the Belltable Wed 9th - Sat 12th November. See it.details

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Love letters straight from your heart

One thing the unfringed reminded me of, is what a conservative audience member I am really. Sit me down in the dark and tell me a story and I'm happiest. I'm not bored with that. Maybe if I went to the theatre more often then I would be but I don't think so ( it's the same way I watch films and I haven't gotten bored of that yet).

Love Letters Straight To Your Heart was the kind of show that it would have been probably more fun to be 'in love' at, it was still fun though.

I say 'show', but this was 'participatory theatre' so perhaps a more accurate word might be 'event', or even 'party'.

It was an early party, (4:00pm, I think) so only the true alcoholics accepted the offer of champagne, and then we all sat opposite each other along a long white table festooned with flowers and party poppers and listened to music and dedications and drank toasts (nice champagne BTW), and played and listened to personal sermons/monologues on the topic of love and its' importance.

It was lovely, it raised emotions I think, in everyone. Our host and hostess acted and played for us. They were sympathetic, they were vulnerable, they were idealistic, and even exultant while all the while exuding the quiet and reassuring calm that all good hosts do. Then we all danced together and it was over.

It was nice to drink champagne and share, with a room full of strangers, the experience of listening to the love songs of Leanord Cohen, Jaques Brel, Marc Almond, the Smiths, Bowie and Kate Bush.

The nature of this kind of 'participatory theatre' is that a lot of what the audience 'get out of it' is what they 'put in to it' and it just might be that, as a small and conservative daytime audience, we took part too grudgingly to get the experience on full effect, (at least one miserable git didn't even bother sending in a dedication before the show) but I had did have a wonderful time.

Between the snatches of performance and really great music, there was indeed a lot of love in the room. There wasn't a whole lot else, true, but as the music and performance consistently pointed out:

When you have love -what else do you need?

Love letters Straight From Your Heart:
An Uninvited Guests production hosted by Richard Dufty and Jessica Hoffmann.

unfringed awards

Her Name Was Pamela Mooney

The theme if the unFringed(sic) this year was 'Love'.

Perhaps intended as an antidote to the general doom and gloom of the recession, the festival organisers invited practitioners to celebrate the big 'L' in all it's forms: I suppose the intention behind this to use the Arts to focus our minds on what is truly important to us now that we don't have money anymore.

'Love,' 'Love', 'Love' and there I am at the show on my ownie lonely ownself.

Why did the theme of this years fringe festival have to be 'Love'?


I mean its a nice idea to remind people, (who aren't perhaps as fiscally sound as they'd hoped,) that there is love in their lives, but it's pretty hard on those of us whose material wealth AND ability to build long-lasting relationships can be summed up as:

"One small cat: deceased."

So I guess I'm tryin' to say that I found the whole 'love' angle a little hard going betimes. Thankfully though, it really only was the theme of two shows that I went to. One of those shows is the subject for today and that's
'Her name was Pamela Mooney'

Her name was Pamela Mooney- Yay!
A premiere- Yay!
Directed by Local Person Yay!

And so it began.
There they were waiting for us in the theatre with their happy smiling welcoming faces and their children's television presenters outfits, they handed out 'love-heart' sweets, and party balloons and asked my name;

"My name is fuck off! I'm just tryin' to watch some theatre as unobtrusively as possible so that nobody notices the aura of self contempt and failure that hangs about my person like the stale-smell of a life gone rotten and a soul dying!"*Sob*

is not what I said; what I said was:

"My name's Darren"

I got a balloon and I got to play the old schoolyard game where a girl uses the secret knowledge of origami and my favorite colour and number to determine the name of my future life partner.

Kill me now.

Even better, I get to be connected across the seats by a paper chain to a young lady and then introduced! What larks, maybe we shall fall in love!- wouldn't that make a great story!

Okay all these things happened, and it was a bit cringy but it was also a lot of fun and it's 'fringe theatre' so that's the way it rolls, I guess. It established the performers as 'hosts' and set the tone for the show which was clearly to be light, light, light.

And then everything went mad.

In a good way, mind you, in a good way... mostly.
There was a lot of building up, and messing up, and cleaning up,
with the props. Some of it might have made a sort of sense, but a lot of it went right over my noggin.

As promised in the prologue and programme, we were treated to a series of re-enacted anecdotes based on real peoples' recollection of their early crushes and emotional awakenings.

Personally, even though, at this particular moment in time in my life, I believe in Love like I believe in leprechauns: I do adore these type of stories. I would probably have enjoyed them immensely just from source, but I was in for an extra treat.

The various different stories were recreated for us in various different ways,
An actor alone, actors performing the same speech simultaneously, slow and measured, wild and frantic, interrupted by different stories interrupted by seven kinds of shite being dumped on their heads... They were amazing.

It was over too soon, which is always a good sign. Personally, I would've enjoyed more of the stories and less of the clowning, but, as I said I love them stories me.

If I was to have one big niggle, (and I must have my niggles) then I would say this:
'Look how far you've come' is an oft-repeated phrase throughout the show and there is a device of an elephant treading a silver path through the second half; this phrase and this elephant made me wonder if the stories themselves would be part of a bigger story arc that I could make sense of.

If it was anything like that there I never figured it out. Perhaps the people telling the stories got older, I'm not sure, but as they all referred to a period of immaturity it felt to me as if the order of stories could change every night without affecting the show in any significant way.

Over-all, as a play, it wasn't linear enough for my boring old brain but, 'what the heck- it's a 'fringe' festival', and although the bright costumes and jolly jolly tone does not draw attention to the acting in the way that a dark or emotive play might, this was far and away the most difficult and competently executed piece of straight acting that I saw out of the six shows that I attended.

So Pontoon theatre;

thank you guys

You get all my Love.

Directed by Naomi O'Kelly.
Actors names not included in the programme.

unfringed awards

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Blanch

'The Blanch' is a clown show based upon a shopping centre.

In last years unFringed(sic) there was a clown show, I didn't see it but a friend of mine who currently lives in the capital, did and when I asked her about it she said it was 'Okay, but I've seen a lot of that clowny stuff before done better'.

That was her opinion, told to me and based on what she knew. Unlike my friend I haven't seen a lot of clowny stuff before. The last clowny thing that I saw was in the Fossetts Circus tent at the Electric Picnic (I thought that clown was excellent), so I just thought it's best to admit from the get-go that this position (of complete clown ignorance) is where I'm coming from.

So 'The Blanch' is a clown show, a show comprised more or less entirely of physicality and slapstick that illustrates the reality of the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre as a stylised cartoon rather than a realistic portrait.

This cartoon of The Centre in particular is also, I think it's safe to assume, a comment on Ireland and consumerism in general.

There are three active clowns: and a live orchestra of two. Hunchbacked and grotesque, they roamed around the stage making faces and shouting at the late-comers and then they began:

I think the word is 'gagfest'.

The energy required to sustain something like this for an hour and a bit, I can only imagine. There are no tea-breaks on this job lads, the energy does not let up and the gags keep comin' and keep comin' and keep comin' and keep comin' and comin' and comin' and comin' and comin' and that's what you get and then it's over and out you go into the night, half-unsure if you dreamt the whole episode.

And that, perhaps, is what a clowny show is.

Did I enjoy it? Immensely. Would I recommend it? To most people, yeah,- so long as they knew what they were goin' to. Am I a fan of clowning now? Erah no. I dunno, maybe I'd have to see more of it.

Because the show is a cartoon, the characters are, of necessity, stereotypes: so some of the humour can be of the Brendan O'Carroll/Jim Davidson type which is grand and bawdy but not to everyone's taste.

Also, some of the jokes fell flat, not because they weren't funny but because there was no time to laugh. I prefer being bewildered and entertained to being spoon-fed and bored, but the constant rapid-fire gags without pause did wear me a little at times and not because they weren't funny or well-done, but because I didn't have time to digest what was happening in front of me.

The performers too, particularly in the beginning, sometimes began a set-piece at a point of extreme exhaustion, which maintains the frantic pace but can make them difficult to hear, just until they get their breath back.

Perhaps a little more experience of what clowning is would help me to appreciate it more. Over-all I was extremely impressed by the energy of the group and the sheer amount of work that they have obviously put into their show. It's fun and it's rude and it's as easy to enjoy as it is probably hard to perform. It wasn't flawless, I imagine it's not meant to be, but for every 'miss' there are plenty of 'hits' and it's funny and it's fresh and it has somethin' to say about Ireland right now.

If it comes your way, and you don't mind rude, go see it.

THE BLANCH, devised by 'Ciarán Taylor and the company'.
Performance:Bryan Burroughs, Amy Conroy and Jaimie Carswell.
Musicians:Jack Cawley and Kim Porcelli.
Costume design: Miriam Duffy.

unfringed awards