Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hold the Front Page

To keep me occupied, I had this Sunday ear-marked to take part in a reading of "The Front Page" with Bottom-Dog.

What an exhausting day it was and what an amazing play it is.

'The Front Page' is an interesting play for our times, sitting, as we do, on the cusp of either the demise or the dawn of true journalism ( depending on how optimistic/pessimistic you are about this whole 'web' experiment ).

It's the play that is the foundation of the Walter Mattheu/Jack Lemmon fillum of the same name (which I've never seen) and the even older 'His Girl Friday' fillum (which I have seen) and an older 1931 film which is included in it's entirety at the bottom of this post, free gratis and for nothing and don't ever say I don't give you anything.

Frankly, neither version, not indeed the version we performed tonight, are a patch on the original for misogyny, homophobia and racism and despite this, — I would've preferred to perform the original verbatim.

Even though that mightn't seem the best idea in the world audience-wise, for,( as the bloke who played Kramer in Seinfeld discovered, to the detriment of his career,) a white person can't stand up on stage nowadays and say 'Nigger'.


Well because they cant:

Chris Rock's response on Letterman ( I think) to that Seinfeld actor's outburst that was to say:
" Racist?- Yeah I reckon he's racist,- Man shouting 'Nigger' in a crowded room- he's racist!"

And my response to that was..."Hey wait a minute, if ever I heard a man shout 'Nigger' loud and often in a crowded room then that man is Chris Rock.
And the only problem with saying 'Nigger' ( when your skin is of a shade that does not suggest ( relatively ) recent African antecedents) is not that the word is racist or that the person is racist but that audiences are racist.

They must be: otherwise they would wince at the term, or laugh openly at the term, no matter the complexion of the person who used it.

When you perform (or in my own case, sloppily perform) a play from another country set 80 years earlier, you are partly presenting some theatre and partly presenting an historical re-enactment of what theatre used to be: it's a unique context.

Line by line, there is much to take offence with in the original script, but as a whole, I think that personally I would have run the risk of offending the entire audience for the sake of the integrity of the piece: I'd do it.

I'd do it for two reasons:
#1 Because can be a confrontational motherfucker, insomuch that I don't believe that simply because people take offence, they should be listened to or accommodated.


#2 Just because the characters in a story are racist, and those characters get to speak, does not mean that the play itself is racist. There are no black people depicted in it. The attitudes of the politicians and the press are that black people are singularly unimportant, except for their vote. A disgraceful attitude, yes; I have no doubt it's depiction is accurate though.

'The Front Page' went out of its way to demonstrate to its audience that the 'Gentlemen of letters' who provided their daily information were merely a bunch of self-serving bums with typewriters; so coarsened by contact with the seedier elements of this world as to be practically inhumane ( In the above picture, they're scrambling for tickets to the execution ).

The fact that they constantly make sexist, racist and homophobic jokes underlines how low they've sunk.

The scene where they all become intrigued and excited about the possibility of writing about a 'love-triangle'-based double-homicide, and then settle back into their chairs when they find out that it's 'just a story about niggers' has a special poignancy and helps remind us where the world we now live in came from.

Is it funny? No, but there is an element of 'The Front Page' that reminded me of the TV series 'The Wire' in that it depicts the system and the systematic corruption and characters who are neither purely good nor purely disgraceful but fundamentally flawed. Imagine if somebody cleaned up The Wire of offending material? — what would there be left?

You can argue that taking this stuff out is definitely safer and the right thing to do in terms of modern sensibilities, but I think sometimes there comes a time, [ such as in 1955 CBS did an Adventures of Huckleberry Finn where Huck's friend 'Jim' was played by a Caucasian, —I kid you not] where the desire to abridge something to make it acceptable, destroys it completely .

I know that 'The Front Page' is a comedy and folk just want to laugh, but the play, in its entirety, was for me, a fascinating insight into the way so-called civilised people thought and behaved in a time that is really not that long ago.

A verbatim presentation would not have got so many laughs but I do think would have proven a fascinating bit of archaeological investigation into that 1920's American psyche.

Plus I wouldn't have had to cope with so many rewrites.


Here, in its entirety is the original Motion Picture... or as we like to say nowadays 'Fillum' :

It shows its age.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Rashomon vibration yeah

I came across this speech about how the super-high-net-web-inter-link, far from evolving into the democratic world-connecting utopian information-exchange-area we'd all hoped for, may instead be currently in the process of turning into complete shite and destroying all newspapers and ethical journalism while it's at it.

It's got a couple of interesting points so check it out by all means right here. In this speech, apropo of nothing much, Mr Eli Parisier points out that we'd all like to watch cinema classics like Rashomon, but we end up watching Ace Ventura instead. This doesn't have much to do with the speech but it gets a chuckle and he moves on.

I don't. Move on that is, nor do I get a chuckle for that matter but the main thing is that I don't move on.

I stand there, dumbstruck.

Why in the entirety of my pathetic, pointless and largely uneventful life have I never watched Rashomon? Could it be because unlike 'Seven Samurai' ( The Magnificent Seven) and 'Yojimbo'( A Fist Full of Dollars) nobody ever made a decent Western out of it? Could it be that no video library* I've encountered in my pathetic, pointless and largely uneventful life has ever stocked it, probably also because nobody ever made a decent Western out of it?

*no video library ever
stocked it apart from the one in Helsinki that had a DVD but it only had a Japanese
soundtrack & Finnish subtitles and that was just a language-gap too far.

Well long story short I don't know why this Fillum never made it into the Cinema Paradiso that is my trusty VHS machine but it didn't. I have lived my life culturally bereft it seems. Yes, there has been a Rashomonetary deficit. This was a situation that could not continue, people, and you'll be delighted to hear that you can all relax because it's finally been resolved: I just watched it.

It's a Good Fillum: I'm feeling all stripped down and into the bare-boned Nippon way of thinkin' so have a haiku to sum it all up:

The truth is not set,
We live our lives not knowing,
This blog has ended.

Nightingale from Scratch.

Part four of this.

Bit of an unfair advantage for the lads here, perhaps, because unlike the toe-in-the-swimming-pool almost-stories, half-stories or story-slices that formed the bulk of the evening, Duncan and Kev performed a story that was not only complete but a classic: 'The Nightingale' by Hans Christian Anderson.

I read me Hans Christian Anderson until the cover fell off, so there was no way I wasn't gonna enjoy this. Took forever to start mind you, I did wonder why the tech aspect couldn't have been pre-set, or why Kev had to do it all on his own.

Still, the break was nice and the performance was certainly worth the wait.

Duncan read,with the help of a book and Kevin played, with the help of a guitar and some pedals:
'The Nightingale'.

They had a nice 'Jay & Silent Bob' double-act going on with Kev providing the nightingale's reactions to the story ( with his face) and also the nightingale's incomparably musical voice ( with his impressively deft guitaristry*).
I reckon that with two months to prepare Duncan could've learnt and performed it rather than read from a book, but I suppose the book-reading element gains in its evocation of 'childhood story-time' whatever it loses in communicating more directly with an audience, and it's a handy prop to lean on, and you can hardly blame him either if he just wasn't arsed doing all that work for the sake of an experimental piece that's only on for two nights.* 'guitaristry' is a perfectly cromulent word,— I tell you!

Ridiculous quibbly niggles aside, I have to say that the piece I saw was really really great and a lovely end to the evening, the perfect end. It wrapped up the show and it quieted our minds and it sent us out into the world with smiles on our faces.

It was lovely for us, how useful it was in informing any future idea or development
I find a little hard to figure out: we were introduced to it as a piece that was yet to be developed and then informed that there was a desire to expand it in the future through use of puppetry and voice actors and additional music. This being the case, it was hard for me to see how the accomplished performance of this neat and perfect double-act was to inform any future decisions on that score.

It worked so well within its limitations that it was hard to see any addition of bells and whistles doing anything other than detracting from the minimalist dynamic, and that dynamic seemed to be the point of the piece.

To me, it seemed that its virtue was absolutely bound up in its simplicity and the addition of increased technical complexity would just simply turn it into a clockwork nightingale.

That's what I thought.

There was an 'after-show discussion' which I dreaded, but actually it was grand because was an informal 'everyone stand around chatting in twos and threes' bit: basically what normally happens in the pub after the show anyway. Despite the informal setting, I still got a bit painfully self-conscious anyway so God-only-knows what the poor oul' theatre-makers were going through.

Over-all they seemed pleased with themselves though, and over-all I reckon they have every right to be.

Over-all it was a really good idea and over-all it was a really great night.

I still can't believe the whole thing was only a fiver.

THE HANS PROJECT (The Nightingale) was produced by the LSA / Performed by Duncan Molloy & Kevin O'Malley, based on the children's stories of Hans Christian Andersen.

You Can't... from Scratch.

The continuing saga of Thursday night at the Belltable.

If you don't know what I'm on about, start here.

So where was I? yes hot on the heels of 'Seige': Spilt Gin presented
Directed by Meave Stone.

It was explained to us as the work of several people: some disparate ideas that the group were hoping for a way to mesh together to make an interesting show that they could submit to the Dublin Fringe.

From this introduction, and from the piece itself, I would presume that the group has an ethos that champions a democratic and collaborative approach: involving much devising and experimentation to allow the work to emerge in an unforced organic way.

If I'm right, then I'd say that this is an approach that, (for all it's courage and good intentions) isn't working out that well, at least at this stage of the game.

I really didn't respond to this.

I mean, the acting/directing was good and tight but I couldn't personally see how they could ever marry all the different ideas into a show with any cohesion, nor could I see why anyone'd ever want to.

Okay, I'll explain it as I remember it:
there was an opening exchange between an 'old' woman and a young man (mother/son/grandson?) on the subject of her funeral. This was well-acted, engaging, reflective and fun;

the show stopped and we were treated to the sight of two chaps more or less standing there, ( one with some shades on ) while we heard an audio recording of an interview;

then next, I think, there was an exchange between two drug-addled people blathering on and on, which was so well written and so well acted that it was exactly as dull as being in a room with two drug-addled people blathering on and on ;

then we were back to listening to the tape;

we had another interesting reflective piece about a little boy/man and his mother/memory of his mother ;

we were back to the bloody tape again* .

So, as for glueing all these things together: there is almost definitely an audience out there for reflective and fun relationship stuff; there might even be an audience who like to observe 'the effects of drug-taking' realistically re-enacted ( especially if they become involved with the lives and point of view of the characters before the effects of psychotropic substances obliterate their personalities) ; there is, no doubt, an audience too for experimental theatre that toys with the notion of displaced time and realities through use of recordings, ( that audience doesn't include me, but then again a lot of things don't),but I could not see any of this ever forming a cohesive whole that would be satisfactory to all these very different sets of audiences and their expectations.

*Look, you can probably tell by now that I really hate 'taped bits', and I do, there was a bit in 'Treasures' on videotape that I didn't like either but the way it was used in 'You Cant..'— actually made me angry.

Now all this is very subjective and personal and I don't mean to be unfair but everyone has their personal pet-peeves and this went right off the scale of my personal pet-peevometer:

I suppose to me, the acting out of stories is what I go to see, and I don't care if the story is 'real' or not: I want the story to be good and the actor to be real.— In this thing, there is a 'reveal' of sorts where we discover that the person being interviewed is a 'real' person, with a real problem, but I just felt 'So What?' their 'reality' meant nothing to me: It was a tape, and nor am I astonished to discover that there are people in the world with real problems, I didn't get it.

Someone explain it to me.

It reminded me of the cacophony created by twelve different radios tuned to twelve different radio stations on a crowded beach.


YOU CAN'T JUST LEAVE, THERE'S ALWAYS SOMETHING produced by Spilt Gin / Directed by Maeve Stone / Written by James Hickson, Máirín O'Grady, Dan Colley & Louise Melinn.

Seige from Scratch

The second course on the 'Scratch' evening menu was 'Seige' written by Ciarda Toibin and Directed by Marie Boylan.

Some of the dramaturgy was unclear; the 'story' was hard to follow. The background music over-powered the actors voices at times and I kept getting confused about the relationship of the two main characters, where they Mother/Son? Mother and gay son? Illicit lovers? Childhood sweethearts? I think a combination of the last two maybe or maybe all of them: it was definitely confusing to me, BUT:

I didn't care; every glimpse of the story that I could discern was invoving, and the Actors' performances were fantastic. The way that somebody can become truly beautiful, while singing kareoke truly awfully was touched upon in 'My Best Friend's Wedding' but done a million times better here.

One could claim that the device of having a 'dead person speaking alive and addressing the audience' is an old chestnut, in ways, but the line: "I'm not missin'" spoken to the audience the amid all this chaos and excitement and theatricality had a resonance that I found both chilling and engaging.

Yup,- this really floated my personal vessel.

I think there's a fantastic play in here somewhere. Certainly,- if I'm to regard these tit-bits as akin to 'movie trailers' then 'Seige' is the next Summer block-buster I most earnestly want to see.

I'm hungry for it.

Get the finger out, Toibin!


SEIGE, produced by Amalgamotion, was written by Ciarda Tobin and directed by Marie Boylan.

Treasures from Scratch

Okay I've decided to break this one up because I'm a lazy git. Basically I'm writing about 'Scratch' for the next few posts.

'Scratch?' says You; and what's 'Scratch' when it's at home?


For two nights this week the Belltable held its 'Scratch' event: a lovely idea to encourage a few local Thayture heads to tentatively try out a few half-formed ideas in front of an audience. It was an opportunity, instigated by the now departed Joanne Beirne to take 'that idea that you're not sure about' and to stick it under the grill and see if anyone salutes it (or else to run it up the flag pole and see if it sizzles).

On Wednesday it began with Willfredd Theatre's 'FOLLOW' which I didn't get to see.
Curatorily*, this seems like a bit of a mad way to do things; I mean the show was different on two different nights but only to the tune of one short piece. Surely the majority of audience weren't expected to attend both nights? * Yes, I make up my own words; what of it?

There must have been good reasons for this eccentric line-up but I did find it annoying, not least because I went on Thursday and missed Willfredd Theatre's 'FOLLOW' and was told by a Wednesday-night-attender that that had been their favourite thing.

What this post is about, and what the Wednesday-nighters missed out on, was Maeve Haicead's 'Treasures'; which I really thought was one, a treasure that is.

Everyone loves to see themselves on the stage and I wouldn't have thought a Mother/Daughter dynamic would have sucked me in as much as this did, but then again, I am a hoarder.
I do believe that the objects we retain from our lives and the lives of our families for a kind of sculptural diary and so I enjoyed the premise immensely. I enjoyed the actors' performance too and found it heart-warming and believable. As expected, ( from the way the whole night was put together ) it was over too soon.
The only thing missing, from the parts that I saw, were some real Bunty Annuals. Honestly it's a small thing but there are people in this world who will gasp at the sight of an old copy of Smash Hits or a Bunty Annual.

And I'm one of them.


TREASURES produced by Sidhe Theatre Company. Performed by Margaret McBride & Maeve McGrath.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Everyone's a critic: but some critics are better than others.

Yesterday this webshite registered its 10,000th page-view, which is modest enough probably ( considering just how long I've been doing it and the amount of shite I've put up here ) but it was a big deal to me... anyhoo I thought at this stage I might get away with writing a blog about the blog, or the part that is the source of the greatest amount of joy and grief: The 'Thayture' bit.

The 'Thayture' section of this blog has been linked in the past by a couple of Thayture Companies. They have done so, I presume not because they were blown away by any level of insight or journalistic skill, but simply to capitalise on anything positive written down about their shows that might keep the 'Buzz' going.

It's all about bums on seats and I get that, and I'm still delighted that they bothered linking me at all (*thanks lads); what I don't like, is having "whatever-nonsense-I-pulled-out-of-my-arse-to-give-people-a-sketch-of-my-impression-of-what-I-just-saw"— described as 'A Review'.

'The Review', and in particular 'The Theatre Review' is a set, almost immutable thing. It has a structure honed, I presume, by the reactions of thousands of actors and audiences and newspaper folk down the years.
The Theatre Review is politic and polite. It is a careful document. It is a precise document. It is a gentleman, and like all true gentlemen never gives offence without specifically intending to.

'The Things and Also Stuff Thayture blog' is a mannerless oaf in comparison, drunkenly reeling around the room reeking of halitosis and stepping on everyone's toes with it's big size nines:— If we think of Cary Grant as The Theatre Review, then the Thayture blog is the guy that Danny De Vito and Del-Boy consider a bit of a social embarrassement.

This is partially on purpose, and partially inevitable, as an Ack-Tore I have of course been greatful for the carefully worded review that doesn't hurt anyone's feelings, but as reader I'm a bit bored by them and as blogger I'm not sure I know how to write one or would want to.

I worry a lot about the medium of Theatre.

I think sometimes that its time might be over.

Then I think of Banksy.

I think one of the reasons Banksy made such an impact with his street-pictures was he made Art that people felt they could talk about. Most people don't want express an opinion abut Art nowadays for fear of looking like they don't know what they're talking about, but the picture on the wall on the street outside belongs to everyone: the way ads do, or fillums do, or music does, or theatre should.

So, in short, I feel entitled to crap on about my own reactions to shows, half-baked and as subjective as they are, because that's the way people talk about stuff, and it's better to talk about stuff than to stay silent for fear of looking silly.

I still think that the tactful, measured, properly-written Theatre Review, is a great thing; ( do check out Rachel Finuchane if you want to see Limerick Thayture shows covered properly like this,) but it's not what I do.

You might say that what's really going on is I have neither the skill nor the manners nor the inclination to do things properly.

And you'd be right.

I still don't care....nyaaaah!

I write this half-baked nonsense down with my own name and out it goes into the world with an unfiltered* comment box at the end and anyone who wishes to point out that I'm a fool and don't know what I'm blathering about has not only the right but the instant capability to do so; anonymously too.
*particularly long replies, or replies on older posts do go into a filter.

I go to shows and I write about 'em pretty much as I'd talk about them in the pub afterwards, if perchance you feel I'm talking out my hole ( which, let's face it, I probably am ) then please oh please feel free to join the conversation.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sullivan's travels

In year of 2000ad the Coen Brothers brought out O Brother Where Art Thou and I saw one of the interviews they did about it.

In that interveiw the Coen Bros. revealed a tidbit of info that simultaneously solved a life-long mystery for me and also made me feel kinda cool.

Way, way back: so far back that I have no idea how far back it is, I saw a black and white fillum on the telly that must have impressed itself fairly deeply into my consciousness because my mind has drifted back to it again and again, throughout my life.

It was such an unusual fillum; it has as it's theme:
the value of straight out entertainment


educational and morally instructive work that raises empathy and
benefits society.

It begins with a fight on top of a train, which, (in the style of the newsreel opening to Citizen Kane), then cuts to a group of film-makers discussing it.

Because I spent the majority of my life pre-interweb, I was, for years, describing this film to random folk hoping that someone would know the title; with zero success, until finally I was beginning to wonder if I had imagined the whole thing.

An then it happened, with the dawning of the new millenium,— there was meself watchin' the Coen lads blatherin' on about their newest flick like as what they doin' that was going to have George Clooney in it and then they started talking a bout a film called 'Sullivans Travels' in such a way that I knew it had to be that exact same fillum I'd been talking about my whole life long and never knew the name of and two things shook my world in a fundamentally positive way.

#1 The fillum was real and now had a name.
#2 The Loneliness of being the only person who'd ever seen it was over: it went from bein' 'The Film That Nobody But Darren Has Ever Seen' to 'That Film that only Darren and the Coen Brothers Have Ever Seen.' which was a vast improvement, of sorts.

Incidentally the film that they're trying to make in 'Sullivan's Travels'— that we see at the beginning with the fight on the train,

is called 'Oh Brother Where Art Thou?

100% FACT!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Understanding Comics

When I am made Emperor, this shall be compulsory reading for everybody... or perhaps I'll completely ban it: whichever of the two options that is more likely to encourage people to peruse the contents, for something must be done, because it just aint right.

It's not right, in this day and age, that people are ignorant about this medium, and considering that Scott McCloud's almost perfect tome has been available since 1993 there is simply no excuse for it. None.

Scott got clarity. The vast majority of things written about Art do not seem to aim for comprehensibility. They don't.( George Orwell made an interesting point in his essay 'Politics and the English Language': that some art criticism is actually entirely devoid of meaning).

This comic aint like that.

This comic comprehensively and comprehensibly examines its subject* (which he defines as 'visual art-in-sequence') extremely clearly.
In fact, understanding comics does it with the absolute clarity that only the combination of words and pictures can provide.

I love it.

Have a taste: this is the opening 10* panels to Chapter 2:
'The vocabulary of Comics'
they appeared as four panels on the first page and six in the second.

Morituri te salutant*

" *Those about to die, salute you "

An old fillum this, a forgotten fillum. I only know of it from the legendarily dismissive Brando interview* where he refuses to promote it.

Strange that it should languish in such complete obscurity all the same. People have heard of Marlon Brando after all and people have heard of Yul Brynner, and war and espionage are popular subjects and Morituri has a strong and engaging story arc so what's wrong with it?

Well, there was the problem of the title. I mean I don't have a problem with the title,— I like it, if a title is to remain at the back of your mind, as Stephen Fry puts it: 'like a flag flapping somewhere visible and distant', then I think'Morituri' is a cracker.

'Those who are about to die'... What does that mean? Well I reckon it means someone's going to die and we don't know who.

In terms of the film as a complete work of art, it's an excellent title. But, sadly, in terms of marketing it was not such a good idea and just confused folk. It was re-named 'The sabateur,-code name 'Morituri' which not as pretentious-sounding maybe but is tragically clunky and ridiculous.

The titles then are either
and unfortunately the film itself is guilty of living up to the promise inherent in both of them.

Made in 1965, it feels like an awkward bastard child of the stagey studio-bound war fillums of the 50's and 60's and the grimmer and grittier flicks to follow in the eighties and nineties. So, while this is a film that was probably, in many ways, ahead of it's time,- it doesn't age well.

For example, despite being shot in black and white, there is some very innovative and accomplished photography; there are a couple of long and beautifully framed 'scooping-helicopter' shots where we see that the sea is the real sea and that the ship is a real ship and the the actors are the real actors scrambling around it. But this has the over-all effect of making the sound-stage, where the majority of the action takes place, seem less rather than more realistic.

The many aspects of the storyline are sophisticated and 'mature' for what we expect from a 1960's War picture. By the end of the film we have touched upon, morphine-addiction, alcoholism, systematic rape, the holocaust, survivor guilt, and the truly base actions of men in wartime.

Far from a black-and-white 'good guys vs the nazis' story, the heroic old-school ship's Captain ( who steadfastly remains his own man despite the machinations of the Nazi regime he finds himself a party to ) is by far the most sympathetic character, the American soldiers are comparatively vile and the protagonist makes it clear from the outset that he wishes only to be left in peace somewhere where he can hide out this irritating war with all his lovely money.

Like the helicopter photography, the very 'real' and complicated moral questions in the story actually make the entire film feel a bit more cardboardy. The presentation of the girl prisoner in traditional 'extreme-close up', with traditional 'dramatic score' feels entirely at odds with the story that she's relating.

That it died at the box-office doesn't surprise me, nor do I expect it to gain a cult following anytime soon.

And that's a shame really because, while it does clunk heavily in parts,—it really is a rollicking good story with memorable characters and great performances; it may have been all a bit much for american cinema audiences at the time, but it feels honest and well-intentioned and it 'means' something,( about morality and what-have-you ).

And I'm all for anything that tries.

Also Janet Margolin's really rather good and Martin Benrath is excellent in it, how come we never heard so much of either of them again?

Saturday, May 14, 2011


This line is delivered by the very brilliant Francis Fisher in Clint Eastwood's classic western: UNFORGIVEN.

It's from quite early on in the fillum just after Delilah had her face slashed by the two cowboys, —Sheriff Little Bill arrives and Alice explains that Delilah has done little to enrage the cowboy:

She didn't steal nothing.

She didn't even touch his poke. Alls she done, when she

seen he has a teensy little pecker, is give a giggle. That's all.

She didn't know no better. Going to hang them, Little Bill?

Now the very important point I would like make to you today
( that I know will surely rock your system to it's very core ) is this:

I reckon the intonation is 'wrong' in the first two lines.

Yes. I hate to be the bearer of such news but there it is: the facts are undeniable; there's no getting away from it. When we pay full and proper attention to Mr Eastwood's masterpiece we simply cannot escape the fact that, in these two lines, the emphasis is like so :

She didn't steal nothing.

She didn't even touch his poke.

As if the stealing of a man's property and the 'touching of his poke ' were equally nefarious but unrelated activities; ( either of which might be said to warrant at least some degree of cowboy censure).
But,- when we know that 'poke' is slang for money*, we can see that she is not denying 'stealing' or 'poke-touching' as two distinct possibilities: she's simply denying theft, twice, the second time with more emphasis and so the line should be actually be delivered:*( Originating from the Gaelic "i do 'Phóca'" if we believe professor Cassidy, and we don't always )

She didn't steal nothing: she didn't even touch his poke !

An astonishing blunder indeed.

I have written of this grave situation to Mr Eastwood and suggested what could be done to salvage both his film and reputation. Mr Eastwood's publicity people have replied, to thank me for both pointing out the error and for my suggestions about what might be done to remedy this calamity.

They report that, sadly, that as Clint, Gene and Morgan are all getting on a bit, and as Richard Harris is unfortunately no longer alive, a complete re-shoot of the entire film to properly correct this oversight is no longer a possibility.

I can only conclude that Mr Eastwood has instead ( quite nobly in my mind) elected to bear the shame of this error with fortitude and to hope that the small contribution he has made to the film industry hitherto shall not be completely eclipsed by news of this glaring inaccuracy.

I wish him luck .

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


*****The Metro ****The Times ****The Guardian ****The Telegraph
****The Evening Standard ****The Independent
****The Sunday Times ****The Financial Times

That's what you call good reviews. A show with such a pedigree, (and a two-for-one ticket offer) you'd imagine would be packed out, alas this was not the case, but then again it is a wet and rainy Wednesday night.

Moment... ah Moment, Moment, Moment... what am I gonna do with you? Okay there is so much that is staggeringly, jaw-droppingly good about this play: the way it is written, the way it is directed, the silk-smoothness of the ensemble acting, the brilliantly evoked and involving characters, the poignant snap-shot of the deeply yet instantly recognisable fractured Irish family: frankly; it's an achievement and a half, it blew me away. Honestly, almost everything about it was good. So good in fact, that anything that didn't quite work stuck out like a sore thumb, and juxtaposed next to the fabboness, perhaps seemed like a bigger deal than it really was but that's what you get for raising my expectations.

Tonight's performance of this play, was for me, a game of two halves. When the whistle blew at interval time I was fully aware that I was at something special: something good and true and real and maybe even one of those life-changing plays that you get once in a blue moon and you're never the same after.

My mind was racing just processing what I'd seen. The tension, the excitement, the involvement. It was a rush.—It was the F.A. cup final, and my local giant-killer third division team were beating Man Utd 4 nil. Unfortunately by the end of the play it was a draw and then for a finish we were beaten on the penalties, and I'm carrying such a crushing sense of disappointment that I don't have much stomach for the post-match panel discussion.

I could blame the player who acted with their mouth open, I could blame the on-stage herbal cigarrette ( if you're gonna have the music actually coming out of the radio, and even a functioning kettle for realism, why stink up the stage with the smell of 'fake'? ) but these minor quibbles are only so much sour grapes. In a sense, there never could have been a satisfactory conclusion because the uncompromising demand to evoke reality that made the play so engaging in the first place was never going to give us an easily digestable and processable answer. Life's not like that.

Even so, it seemed to me that the play was either missing a climax, even a weak one, or else had one too many. Man Utd. got their draw because the brilliant passing in the first half seemed to descend into something sloppier, as if the lads were no longer working as a team and instead began to compete against each other for glory: every exit seemed like an ending of the play, and none of them were good endings.

And then the whistle blew and we'd lost.

I'm so hard on it perhaps I just don't have the cojones to be dealing with the absolutely real especially when it comes to the lack of resolution. I can't stress enough that even though I do feel like my team may have lost:

That was some game of football.

Tall Tales Theatre Company and Solstice Arts Centre production in association with the Bush Theatre present 'Moment' at the Belltable Arts Centre until 14th April. Starring Maeve Fitzgerald, Kate Nic Chonaonaigh, Deirdre Donnelly, Ronan Leahy, Natalie Radmall Quirke and Will Irvine.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Crucible

Arthur Miller was no fool when you think about it.
When he wrote 'The Crucible', America was in it's hysterical with-us-or-against-us phase known as the McCarthy era.

It's hard to appreciate what it must be like living in a society when the most groundless suspicion can completely destroy a person.

Four egg sample:

Kim Hunter won an Oscar for Streetcar Named Desire as Marlon Brando's missus. An Oscar, — wow! Brando didn't get one. What happened next?

What happened next was that Kim was blacklisted by the film industry.

That was it. After Streetcar in 1950, her next large role was eighteen years later as the chimpanzee woman who kisses Charlton Heston in Planet of The Apes.

Here she explains the blacklisting in an 1985 interview for the L.A. times.

"For a long while, I wouldn't talk about it at all... I do now, because there's a whole new generation that doesn't remember. And the more one knows, the more one can see, and not allow history to repeat itself."
Kim's "sin," she tells us, was agreeing to be a sponsor of a 1949 World Peace Conference held in New York at the same time that she was in "Streetcar."
Life magazine came out with a big picture spread of all the celebrity sponsors involved and that, is what Kim reckoned, "fanned the flames."
"I was never a Communist, nor even pro-Communist, but I was very pro-civil rights and I signed a lot of petitions,... Nobody ever came to me directly and said, 'You are blacklisted,' and I don't think I ever appeared in 'Red Channels'* . There were only signals, such as the fact there were no film offers after I won the Oscar, not even from Warner Bros., which simply never picked up on the contract they had with me."
* Red Channels was an infamous red-scare pamphlet that published the names of those 'suspected' of pro-Communist leanings so that they would find it impossible to find work.

"At one point, I called the FBI and asked if I was posing a problem for my country that I was unaware of. Someone called on me and said, 'We have nothing on you. ... our problem's with your industry.' "

Eighteen years in the wilderness for sponsoring World peace.

Not so with Mr Arthur Miller, who unlike Kim Hunter, did actually do something that would definitely considered by many at the time to be 'Anti-American': he attacked McCarthyism.

He was so feckin' clever about it too.

Miller attacked his accusers in a very public way by writing 'The Crucible'.
A play that pointed out how frightened people fall into hysteria, and how the internal deluded logic of the witch-hunt will always find evidence in the very fact of their accusation. He stuck it to 'em, and they couldn't answer back because they'd be aligning themselves to those who burnt witches.

I've read The Crucible quite a bit over the years and it's written to be read, and it's good. Last night I had the pleasure of taking part in the Bot-Dogs rehearsed reading of it and as I had a piffling part(*'Francis Nurse'- he doesn't say much.) to do,— I had the best of all possible worlds: a really good seat, all the time to sit and watch the reading and didn't have to pay anything in.

I really enjoyed it, I'd rather see the play of course, out on a fag-break somebody explained to me an interpretation of public readings that I hadn't thought of before, she said: 'it's a lazy way of reading it' and I s'pose it is, but for me ( like as what had read it loads already ), the advantage of bringing in 'real people' was watching other things start to shine through that you hadn't thought of.

The Bot-Dogs have some quality actors at their disposal I'll tell you that much.

Incidentally,—If you're too lazy to read The Crucible and you're wondering what happens in it then I spose you could watch the Daniel Day Dublin-tram fillum of the same title.

If you're wondering what it's about though, I'd go for the George Clooney fillum Goodnight and Good Luck!

and on that note,
Goodnight and Good luck.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


This post is actually about Waterworld full-stop.

The question mark is there because I'm trying to address that thing that happens when someone comes into your gaff for the first time and they're checkin' out your bookshelf and video-stack and they get this smile on their face like they've 'caught you in the act', and they're partly curious as to why Waterworld is there, partly delighted they've found something about you they can laugh at, and partly patronising as if they're about to nudge you in the elbow and whisper conspiratorially;

"Waterworld is a CRAP film... I'd put that video away where people can't see it if I were you! friend-to-friend, y'know... just a heads up!"

When I hear it from another room (because people only really openly ogle your shite when you nip out for a second) when I hear the sudden exclamation of surprise/gloating/nervous pity combined in the jocular inquiry "Waterworld?" it always makes me regret letting a stranger into my house in the first place.

Now Waterworld is hardly a great film. But it seems to have the reputation of the most shite film ever and as for 'reputation' . well...sometimes people quote Shakespeare on reputation, i.e.:

"Reputation is an idle and most false imposition;
oft got without merit, and lost without deserving."

As if Shakespeare was Socrates or Mohammed or somebody, just dropping his pearls of wisdom left right and centre for posterity to contemplate.
Nay! - I say this quote is a line, from a play, from a villain, and Shakespeare being Shakespeare,- it was designed to appear to the audience not as the author's opinion or as universal truth, but to illustrate what a sneaky and and manipulating, conniving so-and-so Iago was.

Still, we can see how it convinces Cassio because it is kinda true. I reckon Waterworld garnered its reputation as a shit-storm of a fillum from it's historical context and it's association with Costner and not from it's strength or weaknesses as a stand-alone cinema-story.

When it came out, everybody was pretty much browned-off with Kevin Costner.
Kevin Costner had been jammy enough to be picked as the lead in several really good and popular fillums, and had come to the entirely understandable conclusion that 'Robin Hood' ,'Dances with Wolves' , 'Field of Dreams' and 'The Untouchables' had done so well because he was in them. ( As opposed to the other conclusion, that these were good stories,, so good in fact, that his presence hadn't ruined them, and the reason he kept getting consistently good parts in good films was because the films had done well... and he was just being passed around Hollywood like a lucky rabbit's foot by silly lazy people who presume it must always be the main actor guy who everybody comes to see...)

As I remember it, by the time Waterworld came out, far from being enthused about the idea of Kevin Costner being in a film; most people I knew were sick of him turning up in otherwise perfectly good films, making us all sit through Kevin Costner being Kevin Costner and then taking the credit for something that somebody of his limited appeal and abilities was extremely lucky to be included in in the first place.

It seemed, that by the time Waterworld came out, that global cinema audiences had decided to themselves:

"D'you know what?- it's time to send this fool a message; let's not go."

And so they didn't and it was a satisfactory act for many to know that Costner had put his neck on the line and possibly made the most expensive movie ever, encouraged by his own belief in his personal ability to draw an audience which was never that mad about him in the first place:

Seriously, have you ever, in your life, heard this phrase:
"I'm a big Kevin Costner fan"

Waterworld is the film where everybody decided ' fuck him - he's a wanker! - I am going to take a personal delight in not going to this film, because Costner's an 'up-his-own-arse cuntbag' and any contribution I that can make to his failure is actually more satisfying to me than an hour and a half's entertainment could ever be.

An understandable sentiment.

But here's the thing... it's not that shite a film, it's really not.

It's like a Mad Max film, I think it's just as good as Mad Max 1 or 2, and probably superior to Mad Max 3. The future dystopia is more fully realised in Waterworld than it is any either of those three fillums, and it's an interesting concept.
It has silly bits and it aint as clever as it thinks it is, but it's okay and I like it, and I shant be removing it from my shelf anytime soon.
Even if that means I run the danger of hearing

one more time,

when I'm in the kitchen,

where there are knives...

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Seafarer

'The College Players' are a legendary group in Limerick and although they have had an eleven year hiatus, they still maintain a reputation for quality work. Having seen their latest production 'The Seafarer' I don't think that their good reputation is in any danger.

It's a tight, fun show and yeah,- it is a little jarring to see Limerick folk put on North-Dublin accents and talk about drinking in places like Graingers and The Beachcomer, the Elphin and the Green Dolphin, but none of that really bothered me because I was too busy being entertained.

Entertained like a good thing I was.

The real gold that I responded to in the writing was the ease with which MrMcPherson recreates the particular idiosyncratic vernacular of Nortdubbelin and makes it tell us so much about his characters economically, realistically and with a great gag or seven thrown in at the same time This was what really made the show for me, script-wise.

As for this particular production: the set was solidly squalid,( or squalidly solid ) and the technicals functioned mostly very well*.
* the lighting was a little confusing in parts, and the 'special' change from one world/another I felt could do with a re-design.

The performance was well-rehearsed and tight and tense and light and dark where it needed to be, and the actors worked really well in tandem with each other. I've worked with three of them so I kinda knew that Zeb/Nicky and Brian/Sharkey were gonna be good, the new actors to me were Dave/Mr Lockheart and Padhraic/Dick.I must say Padhraic/Dick although playin' a man who lives in darkness,had no problem lighting up the stage and enjoying himself in this demanding central part, but the biggest surprise to me was John/Ivan, I've seen John in things before but I've never seen him shine like he did last night in the role of Ivan-the-terrible-man.

Excellent, Jaysus! nice wan John.

The actors all go together like a perfect salad, the only ingredient I'd add would be...
meself,—' Now seriously lads, the only play put together in this town in the history of Limerick that requires a full cast of male working-class dubs and nobody even gives me a call? Not even a readin'? If you don't like me you can say it to me face y'know, there's no need to go through all this elaborate play-staging just to make me feel unwanted!

My personal issues with The College Players Human Resource Department aside: 'The Seafarer' is a brilliant production; it is without doubt the best thing that I've seen in the Belltable this year, and the best big production that I've seen in a long time. I was told to expect particularly great things from The College Players,

I was not disappointed.

Seafarer at the Belltable presented by The college Players. Cast: Brian McNamara, Padhraic Hastings, John Finn, Zeb Moore and Dave Griffin. Director Michael Finneran.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cú Chulainn in modern Limerick.

Complete: Bull

(Radio play)
I absolutely cringed when I first heard this, I had such high hopes but some of my ideas fell flat and a lot of the comic timing was obliterated in the edit.

Click to listen.

But still, the basic idea ( I think ) is sound,i.e. to set the 900 year old (at least) epic of 'An Tain'- the Cattle raid of Cooley, as a violent dispute between back-stabbing drug-dealing families in Limerick housing estates.

I included all the main episodes, from the poetic saga: from the opening marital dispute ('the pillow talk')to bloody the climax the ('fight by the ford' and Queen Maeve's shame).

This is episode 3. Very far from perfect (the transitions take forever) but it is the one that came nearest to working as comedy in my mind.

This is the part of the story where Queen Maeve sends her minions to bargain for the Brown Bull so that she will have an equal to her husbands White Bull. The story is narrated by a Seanachai who suffers from a bilious attack any time that his glass is left empty...

for radio
episode three

Subplot Forensic suggests Cucullen, Cucullen and Ferdiad escape custody

SFX Crackling fire....

(To the room- hoarsely) and so it was that (cough)...It came to be that(cough)

Voice in the room:

Are you alright there Tomas?....Would you like some water?

(More exaggerated coughing and mumbles of concern around the room)

Voice in the room:

Would you have another whiskey?

(in a voice as clear as a bell)
I will!
(Concern stops)

Voice in the room:

Right you are, there you go Thomas...


The blessings of God on you.(drinks ) Ah!
Where was I? Oh yes! The black tale of the Bull, and the many who died.
Sure you can leave the bottle there...

Voice in the room:

No problem at all there thomas, and I just want to say it’s great to have a true seanachai in the house.


The black tale of the Bull, and bargains broken...

Click to hear the whole thing
(You know you want to)

Spinal Krapp

Under review.