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.

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