I trotted into the Project Arts Centre last night as I so often do without a clue what to expect from what I’m about to see. Sometimes I purposely avoid reading prologues and reviews in advance to see how a piece of work stands up by itself and what impact it has on me.
Sometimes I’m kicking myself for not doing so and other times I’m completely mesmerised and on cloud nine.
MIMIC was one of the latter. A one-man show with only a baby grand piano, a mirror and some lighting for company we are taken on an entertaining satirical journey through the life of Julian Neary’s turbulent, dark roller-coaster existence opening with what later turns out to be his dramatic demise.
Julian’s journey is troubled to say the least. Growing up in 80′s Ireland Julian discovers he has an unusual talent for mimicry, not something that his father – a man with strict ideals and stuck in the 1950s – takes a shine to and reacts by moving the family’s piano into the basement, or dungeon as Julian calls it. The dungeon is where Julian spends much of his youth during which time he forms a strong bond with his sister Aoife who seems to spend most of her spare time sneaking boys in and out the back entrance of the house.
Julian’s journey takes us through his failed college experience to his seemingly accidental rise to fame and all the way back down to earth again. The sharp and witty imitations of characters like Columbo and Morrissey set against the piano score make for welcome funny moments in amongst all the dark whirlwind life of the mimic.
I don’t want to say too much as I think part of the reason why I enjoyed it so much is that I went in with an open mind, a clean slate. Plus part of the joy is in how the story is told by Scannell and I certainly can’t do that justice here.
It was without doubt the best one-man show I have ever seen and one of the best pieces of theatre I have seen in my lifetime. I was completely sucked into the tale, absorbed into the crazy world of Julian and a small part of me didn’t want to come back out. Raymond Scannell – the writer, composer and performer – is nothing short of a genius. Stunning.
I had the great pleasure of attending the opening night of The Cripple of Inishmaan at The Gaiety on Tuesday night, Druid Theatre‘s latest touring production.
At their 35th birthday celebration in Galway last year they included a scene from The Cripple of Inishmaan in their series of vignettes of their work and it was the one that for some reason stood out the most. Since hearing that they were taking it to the stage again I’ve been looking forward to seeing it and I’m thrilled to say it lived up to my expectations and more last night.
The story is based in the 1930s on Inis Meáin – the middle of the three Aran Islands. Cripple Billy is a bright young man tormented moreso by the boredom of island life than his physical ailments, something I think that will strike a chord with anyone who grew up in a remote part of Ireland.
An orphan since he was a newborn, Billy was brought up and lives with his two aunties, shopkeepers of the local grocery who are an absolute hoot. Billy dreams of a life beyond the Aran and beyond captivated by the story of how his parent’s boat sank as they tried to make it to the mainland en route to America.
But any mention of leaving the island let alone the country is shot down by his aunties who fear he does “too much of that – thinking”. When news of a film company coming to the main island from America reaches him Billy hatches a plan to get there in the hope of going to America to be a movie star.
It’s a wonderful story – heart-breaking, warm, full of characters and a side-splitting witty script with some very unexpected twists. Of course being a Druid production the cast is simply top notch with the talented young Tadhg Murphy in the role of Billy, Liam Carney as BabbyBobby and Claire Dunne as the feisty cailín Slippy Helen.
Now playing in DublinuntilMarch 5th, Druid will be touring the production across the USA, Galway city at the end of June and ending in Inis Meáin on June 26th.
Tickets are available via Ticketmaster or the Gaiety box office.
Last week THEATREclub’s Theatre Machine Turns You On Vol. II took up residency in the Project Arts Centre in Temple Bar with no less than 4 shows a night for 5 nights.
On Thursday the smashing bunch from Devious Theatre in Kilkenny brought their production Scratcher to a Dublin audience for the first time.
Not an easy feat cutting your theatre cloth to suit your measure when it means trimming a 60mins + production into less than 45 but they did it and did it well with fantastic performances by the all the cast.
Scratcher is very much of the moment – a snapshot of the dole queue as a slice of life for many living or trying to make one in Ireland in 2011. The college graduate who just wants to get that first foot on the career ladder, the builder who won and lost in the property gamble to the civil servant behind the screen just doing his job as he always has and more.
Is it time for revolution? Do we care enough to make a stand? Or should we bother? Is it every many for himself or time to band together shoulder to shoulder?
This condensed production of Scratcher was fast, sharp, funny and thoroughly entertaining despite the real and gloomy subject matter. I can imagine that parts of the piece will do better when allowed to breathe with the original running time restored when it hits Kilkenny this week.
I would love to be able to catch it but I don’t think I’ll be able to unless the teleporter kicks into action this week. It hits No. 76 John Street from Feb 22nd – 26th at 8pm. Tickets are a steal at €12 and on sale via the website and the Kilkenny Arts Office.
Here’s hoping Dublin sees more of Devious in 2011.
Tonight kicked off THE THEATRE MACHINE TURNS YOU ON: VOL II at The Project Arts Centre [PAC].
I was originally heading down for one show tonight but a kind offer of spares for WHERE DO I START? came my way.
A 10pm half hour show can’t be the easiest sell but the venue was almost full. Nyree I have seen in a few productions at the PAC in the last year or so most recently As You Are Now So Once Were We which has since had a run at The Peacock. This is a solo show for Nyree where Nyree tackles the notion of identity and what it means for a 24 year-old female half Armenian actor who has never broken a bone living in Dublin.
It’s short, sweet, funny and refreshingly personal touching on themes including emigration, family and what it’s like being a 20-something in Ireland in 2011.
Part of the THEATREclub trio of shows in this year’s Fringe, this show follows along in the vein of Shane’s previous one-man gig, ‘Group Therapy For One’.
“I am sick of talking about being young. I have to do this in order to grow up.”
So Shane takes us back to the golden days of youth, specifically to the days of being in Scouts, also termed his period of “immersive research” for this piece.
It’s a really charming production – quite poignant at times and nostalgic even you were never in Scouts through the carefully chosen soundtrack of various songs anchoring the memories in the late 90′s. Shane’s charisma, charm and brilliant wit make for a lovely interactive and chuckle-filled experience.
I left it with a smile on face and a smille in my heart – not much more you can ask for on a rainy Monday night.