Tag Archives: 2012

Review: The Poor Mouth at The Project Arts Centre

It’s been years since I read an uttering from Flann O’Brien and more’s the pity. With a uniquely Irish, twisted and convulted but so irrestibly lyrical turn of phrase, O’Brien is, despite opinions to the contrary, a unique Irish writer.

Yes, he did follow on from Joyce which was an enormous struggle in itself for any writer not least one who shared the same alma mater and stomping ground with the writer of the world-famous blue books of Eccles, and while I’m not entirely convinced O’Brien did enough to stay away from Joyce, he did carve through a style and niche of his own.

His imaginative meanderings through dark and unknown worlds led by the careful hands of colourful and insightful characters marks a new dawn in postmodern writing for Irish literature. At Swim Two Birds being his most famous novel, other works such as The Third Policeman and An Béal Bocht can boast an enormous amount of literary achievement.

While these quirky pieces of literature have found themselves enjoying somewhat of a resurgence in popularity in recent years; they have also taken to the stage thanks to the impressive and careful work of dramaturge Jocelyn Clarke. Blue Raincoat are currently staging Clarke’s stage adaptation of O’Brien’s novel An Béal Bocht in one of the Sligo company’s newest productions – The Poor Mouth.

Having seen Blue Raincoat’s productions of At Swim Two Birds and The Third Policeman, I thought I knew what I was in for – imaginative staging, energetic performances and complete dedication to appreciating the writing style of Flann O’Brien. I didn’t expect however, for a completely new imagining of a book I thought I had already made my mind up about.

To me, An Béal Bocht is a cleverly constructed parody of the island literature that was prominent during the Celtic Revival era – it’s packed full of lots of fun pastiches of over-enthusiastic gaelgóirs, ignorant peasants and the general misery and hardship we’ve come to expect in plenty of Irish literature. Blue Raincoat keep all this wonderful humour and very astute observations on the ridiculous over-simplified attitudes of the Celtic Revivalists, but also manage to extract the beautiful humanity of the novel’s story. The sadness as well as the uplifting and joyous moments throughout the story are treated with enormous reverence and create extremely poignant moments throughout the production.

The company have never failed to impress me and with a great cast led by the extremely talented Ruth Lehane; The Poor Mouth is both a respectable tribute to Ireland’s greatest postmodern writer as well as a celebration of his wry wit and cruel and unmistakably Irish sense of humour.

Newcomers to O’Brien’s work may find it hard to get used to the long rambling sentences full of clauses and roundabout ways of getting to the point and the production keeps perhaps a little bit too close to the text resulting in quite a lengthy performance, but these minor issues aside The Poor Mouth is well worth the visit to The Project Arts Centre for what, I personally promise will be a clever, creative, moving and most of all, fun production.

Plays until November 24 – more details here >>

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Review: Bound at the New Theatre

Prostitution: The oldest profession in the world, yet it’s not taxed and somehow society seems to blame the suppliers and not the demanders for its existence.

If only those terrible women weren’t offering up their bodies then our society would be such a cleaner place.

I’m not the type to support this opinion, yet I wouldn’t describe myself as feminist. In general my opinion on the sex industry would be to each his own; yet No Tear’s Bound suggests that perhaps we should look at the prostitution industry a little closer and turn around the finger of blame.

Porn stars have the safety of the camera lens and the likes of poledancers are relatively safe away from the mayhem up on their podiums, but Bound works to prove to us the danger these ladies of the night put themselves in every night. From seedy child molesters to power-starved, failures of men; the types of men who attend brothels are not the type any women would like to trust themselves with in a room on their own.

Fallen women with dark pasts; society is not kind to the women who resort to selling their bodies. A litany of crude words exist but how do we describe the men who frequent their dark homes? This dark production which thankfully has its lighthearted moments, is a thoughtful examination on the sisterhood of women flung together in a hopeless situation.

The production itself deserves huge merit. A relatively new production company (established since 2009); No Tears have done a fine job in staging Bound. The cast was surprisingly large given that the play is modern but each actor showed raw talent and great energy on stage. In particular Caroline Harvey’s lovelorn Marolyn and Alison Fitzpatrick’s sassy Jess stood out while Aidan O’Rourke’s Mr. Dolphin gave me the chills.

Bound is at times giddy but then settles down to show the harshness of the sex industry on women for whom life has dealt a bad hand. Not without blame themselves; these ladies give a take on this hidden industry that is depressing, but also, surprisingly uplifting.

Plays at the New Theatre until October 27: Click for details on getting yourself some tickets

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Review: Silent at axis Ballymun

‘Mad as a box of frogs.’

That’s one way of describing Fishamble’s show ‘Silent’ by Pat Kinevane which currently plays at axis Ballymun. However look beyond the sing-sing Corkonian’s banter and humbling observations of the realism of homelessness and the crippling effects of depression ring true.

I’m a bit late in the game discovering Silent – which won both a Scotsman Fringe First and The Herald Angel at Edinburgh Fringe last year, but as evidenced by its many performances since its first staging; Silent is a joy of a production and offers the audience both plenty of chuckles as well as food for thought.

An entertaining and extremely physical performer; Kinevane makes his character Tino both friendly and menacing within a moment’s notice. Tino’s childhood recalls a narcissistic mother, a bullied brother and a community that shows little support or awareness of Tino’s plight. Thus we behold the fruits of this childhood as a ruined man stands tormented by his brother’s death and his estrangement from his only son – if only he’d taken care of himself and watched that mental health ad!

Careful lighting and razor sharp sound effects combine to give a very polished production with Kinevane performing effortlessly through the show. Moving swiftly between hilarious stories and impersonations to truly beautiful mime sequences and heart-breaking stories of how this tragic figure’s life spun out of his control; Silent is both a treat but also a show that will haunt you for a long time after the laughter has died down.

Plays until Saturday, October 13 at axis Ballymun. Click here for booking details. 

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