Tag Archives: Galway Theatre

Baggy Ladies: Theatre In Your Face

Standard

 

Well, it is simply that time of thing again my little Sheeplings, 

(NB: Proper sentences are irrelevant in cyberspace)

It is a common dilemma that one faces when first walking into a trading establishment for alcohol; Matching ones poison to their purse and thinking: ‘Yes, that will do nicely’ or Groaning over the price of a pint of Heiniken, throwing a rabbit at the Barman, grabbing the nearest potted plant and running out the door screaming obscenities. But when the local theatre is doing 3 euro Pinot Grigio and you can actually drink it while watching the performance, the dilemma is…diluted I suppose. This diluted dilemma of delightful decapitating door frames is partially the reason for my experiences in The Town Hall Theatre being filled with inappropriate laughter, daydreams of Gremlins smashing the back wall down and, of course, tears.

Bag Lady by Frank McGuinness

If you just saw your best friend step on, and break, your PSP after being told that your darling pet puppy had been stolen by a travelling circus whilst having a heated argument with said best friend who is a really cuddly polar bear you would still need HEAPS more emotional strain to match how I felt when I left that very, very small auditorium. Bag Lady, a very rarely performed play by Frank McGuinness, is a full frontal assault on the audience by the solitary character of a homeless & clearly mentally unstable woman. She confronts her dark and traumatic past, forcing the audience to re-live it with her. This. Play. Was. Astounding. The actress portraying the Bag lady was phenomenal. She was at most, 3 feet away from me, and DAMN she made the most of the intimate situation. She was STARING everyone out of it, singling people out, and absolutely BELLOWING at us. It was awesome. So if you ever want an audience to REALLY connect with a well written character, just lock them in a small room with a creepy setting and an amazing actress.

When it comes to theatre, I’m sure we’re all accustomed to reading about the great tragedies, the doomed heroes in the proverbial belly of the beast, flailing and waving their little toothpick swords at hope and survival. But Frank McGuinness hasn’t just given us tragedy. Frank is THROWING the bones of a tortured soul, and I mean proper fucking TORTURED, at his audience. This woman has baggage to spare, and her fragmented mentality slowly and agonizingly glues her memories together to paint the bigger picture. The play is only 50 minutes long for a bloody good reason, no one could handle that kind of emotion in an hour. Not even Chuck Norris. Not even Dalek Caan. Ten More minutes and an audience would either be blind from crying out their retinas, paralyzed from the ‘uncomfortable’ intimacy with this kind of character or would be attempting to hug the actress. If any of you lovely readers ever get a chance to see this, go for it. It’s very much dependant on the actress and the director and could be hit or miss, however, it is, in any case, an interesting experience. Just try not to run over any kittens or Orphans before you go see it.

The Bag Lady: This is the actress that I saw in the Town Hall Production. Kudos.

 B for Baby by Carmel Winters

If I could sum this play up in 5 words it would be Funny Rapey Disturbing Snake Baby. This was a very well written contemporary play, I was pretty wierded out by the context though. It was very much dark humour, the kind of feeling you get when you laugh and then kick yourself for being a sick bastard.

In a nutshell: The play is acted out by 2 actors, a man and a woman, that each portray 2 different characters. The main character of B, played by the man, is a special needs person who lives in a care home with D, a woman of  more aggresive mental instabilities. The actress is then swapped for the character of Mrs C who works as a weekend carer for B. Mrs C’s husband, Brian, (played by the same man that plays B) is sterile and she wants a child, badly.

I’ll get into the plot in a bit. Firstly, I’d like to compliment the setting used for the play. Weird and Wonderful. Centre stage you had this platform that curved into a wall at the back, all painted like a cloudy sky. They then used projections of moving clouds onto this surface during the performance. Sipping 3 euro Pints while watching this happen put me in a somewhat happy place. The props were minimal, the actors moved everything themselves and all the furniture that wasn’t being used could be seen hanging on hooks, suspended from the flies. Most of that was painted like clouds too. It was really lovely conceptual theatre design, and it seemed to work well with the music choice between scenes, Sigur Ros.

The plot was…interesting. Well, no actually. I don’t think that’s very accurate. Actually, fuck descriptive words, here’s how I see it. The two sets of characters are drawn out to be completely different. D & B are “basket cases both”, their relationship shows a lot of tension which is initially all portrayed very innocently given their lifestyle and mental condition. Mrs C and her husband Brian are at their wit’s end trying for a baby, Brian attempts to move on while Mrs C cannot. She is not even soothed by her christmas present: AN ADORABLE PUPPY. Seriously, how mean do you have to be? Stop whining about your emotional baggage and pull yourself together woman! It doesn’t end there. This Mrs C, when you get down to brass tacks, turns into an emotionally unstable rapist. By seducing and taking advantage of B she breaks ALL SORTS of crazy social and professional taboos. That’s what I found really striking as a subject for a playwright to tackle. Not the partial nudity, the penis jokes or the fact that there was a live snake on stage. (Hence ‘Rapey’ & ‘Snake’)

B & Mrs C

So in the end, Mrs C is just as capable of being as malicious and aggressive as D while B, remains as passive and immobile as Brian. This notion, along with other things, sheds light on a possible alternative theory. Mrs C and D never see each other, there are close calls but they’re still fucking GHOSTS to one another (and fair play to the actress, those were some FAST costume changes). B and Brian are both sexually linked to Mrs C. This could mean that B is, from one perspective, imagining Mrs C (eventually he believes this) or that the characters intentionally mirror one another in order to express a profound statement on the human condition. Or… 

PARALLEL UNIVERSE. Mrs C is actually a spacey wacey person that can shift through dimensions in time and space and accidentally meets ALTERNATE VERSIONS of herself and Brian and decides ‘Ah well, that’s not really cheating or illegal in any way is it?’.

I prefer that version.      

And so, in conclusion, boys and girls: Never go without Beer or Pinot Grigio while watching modern or contemporary theatre performances, assuming it is on offer in the first place. And if it is not you are most likely going to have to stock up on rabbit shaped projectiles.

Peace Out

The Crucible: Bitches and Witches and Paul Giamatti

Standard

Out here in Galway City, it’s a wild frontier. Everywhere is ten minutes from everywhere yet the incessant rain and wind is constantly delaying you. People let their dogs roam the Westside freely to chase cars & chew peoples boots while their walking. And of course there’s the radioactive apparating cows.

After living here for about 3 weeks, I have pinned down the 4 essential entertaining outings for the financially challenged student:

1. NUIG Library (applicable only to people who are silly and decide to do an MA)

After being in a very small college for the last 4 years with a not-so-spacious library, seeing a 4 story library on NUIG campus was like seeing an awesome new Rollercoaster at Funderland. I was also surprised that the canteen food was edible, so if you really want to go wild after your bookworming, get a sambo from the bíalann.

2. Cupan Taé (Weather dependant, it’s by the docks)

A pot of cream tea and 3 scones with jam and cream for 5 yoyos? And you’re serving it to me in a pretty teacup with flowery napkins?? Gimme.

3. Bottles of wine for 4.99 @Joyces

Stay in and drink them because if you go outside you will most likely be blown out of the country by wind and rain or a brazen young Galwegian will drink you under the table and you’ll be broke AND dead the next day. I do believe situations such as this are why they invented games like Kings.

4. The Theatre

Galway is hot for it and there’s generally alot of awesome productions going on. And here beginneth my response to The Town Hall’s production of The Crucible. Feel free to stop reading now and do something else. But if you DO actually do something else, make sure it’s an awesomely legitimate reason to stop reading. Sharks don’t read blogs. So go play with a Shark. Or a radioactive cow, whatever your preference really, you’ll probably alter it to suit your own environment.   

Yes. I attended a production of The Crucible at the Town Hall last week. Arthur Miller is not really a playwright that I would know much about. Although I probably should seeing as I have and English degree and plan on working in the Arts Industry. The play encompasses the era of the Salem witch trials and is entirely bleak and depressing whilst also being incredibly powerful and captivating. I am really glad I got to actually SEE this play as opposed to reading it, as I imagine the language would be quite dense and hard to follow; not unlike Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter. The production was quite a strong one, the theatre had collaborated with a theatre company from Washington D.C so most of the main roles were played by visiting American actors & Actresses. So you had these wonderfully authentic accents from the Americans and then the supporting Irish actors giving a poorer, but well attempted mimic.

The plot was also quite drawn out and frustrating. It is a full blown insight into the corrupt nature of the church in ealry America. Too cut the long story short, this absolute bitch called Abigail and her band of pathetic teenage girls pretend to see ‘demons’ and witness ‘magic’ performed by women who have ‘walked with the Devil’ in their town so that they’ll be condemned as witches because she wants to kill off the wife of this guy John Proctor, who she slept with but now he’s all like ‘Go away you’re a whore’. And of course, ‘Hell hath no fury as a Woman Scorned’ so trials begin and chaos ensues as evidence and stories are concoted and planted while the truth keeps knocking away at the door like ‘Hellloo, Abigail is a lying bitch and you’re killing innocent people’. It really is a powerful play in that sense, totally immerses you in this absolutely ridiculous culture that could try you for being a witch just because someone else questions your faith and could hang you for dancing in the town square with flowers in your bonnet without permission from the clergy.

In addition to the heavy nature of the plot, the acting was actually very good, I wish I could’ve talked to the girl who played Abigail and given her a smack for being so convincing, I actually wanted to strangle her character. The guy who played John Proctor was also pretty good, and the guy who played the town clergy man looked EXACTLY like Paul Giamatti. Seriously, I’m fairly sure they’re related in some way. Uncanny resemblance, it was awesome that his character was an asshole as well. One of 2 things that Paul Giamatti does well. Oh dear, this poor, probably very ambitious and unknown actor from Washington D.C is now forever labelled Paul Giamatti’s clone by a shallow post grad student. I wonder if he’d care. It also took me a while to get used to people calling the married women ‘goody’. As if they were some kind of dessert or wrapped candy. To be fully honest with you, I was really hungry when I went to see this and so whenever I heard ‘goody’ my stomach cried a little.

The use of space was pretty conventional and a liiittle boring, but that’s just me being REALLY pretentious and wanting to see experimentation in ‘period dramas’ like this. But it’s Miller, so I’m guessing nobody has touched it with a 10 foot experimental barge pole of contempoarary approaches regarding space and setting. Or have they? Actually, I’ll leave that as a question to any readers, if any. Hit me up with some space witches. Cheers.

In brief summary, the performance as a whole was really engaging and I if I was bored at all during it I wasn’t bored for very long because I was busy being angry at most of the charcters and at the entire cultural context. I think the play would have suited a bigger venue and better advertising, but hey, its Galway, there’s not many options.

Tune in next time if your a Doctor Who fan that fantaizes about Nathan Fillion being your oddball neighbour with a robot dog.

Peace Out.