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.
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’)
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.