Tag Archives: Things That Impress Me

Review: Can I Fit Into This at Smock Alley Theatre

I got a really special invite from Nicola Kealy at Rhythm Room, to come and see their latest collaborative production Can I Fit Into This, and I’m enthralled by the work they have done.

Can I Fit Into This combines able-bodied artists with artists with intellectual disabilities to bring a story-telling experience that explores the strength and the voice of the individual and encourages us all to come out of our box and share our stories with the world – because everyone has a story to tell and they’re all worth listening to.

In a soft and sweet performance from a lively cast, the stories flow naturally and effortlessly with each performer having the opportunity to step into the limelight and show us their performance skills.

I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so much at a play, and it’s not just because the production genuinely is so heart-warming but also because the performers are really funny – they chide each other and poke fun. The performance was so amazingly natural and all the performers had incredible confidence on stage. They’re obviously all very close and it’s plain to see how important putting together this production has been for every one of them.

It’s a pity that the show was only on for two nights, but fingers crossed that it’s not the last I’ve seen of Rhythm Room. You can find out more about them here.

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Review: MONSTER/CLOCK at Smock Alley

Sometimes I go to the theatre to hear stories I haven’t heard before, or to hear stories I’ve read but I’d like to see how another storyteller could tell them, sometimes I go because it’s more fun than sitting on the couch watching the Late Late Show.

This time round I went because a friend knew a guy in the play. Situations like that never really make you hope for much, but said play is on in Smock Alley, which in my humble opinion is probably the most beautiful theatre in Dublin and this is my fourth play in there and it has yet to let me down.

Written by Eoghan Quinn, who also acts in the play and is by all appearances, only a young ‘un; MONSTER/CLOCK is by its own declaration a play on time. I am subject to exaggeration sometimes, but this play is honestly one of the most creative pieces of theatre I’ve seen in a while.

It involves puppets, and I’ll be honest with you in the first 20 minutes I wasn’t entirely convinced by them – they’re hand puppets so there’s a large human behind them who also voices them. After the initial hesitation though I quickly got into the spirit of things and those little fluffy characters were as real to me as the household charge.

The story is a real beauty – it’s an imaginative tale of a boy who is seen as a monster in a world of puppets. This boy is a particularly talented horologist (yes I did think of that particularly geeky little boy on the Toy Show two years ago). When he’s faced with the challenge of solving a final challenge so he can save his mentor (a koala, sure you’d have to save the little guy), he has to embark on a journey well outside his comfort zone, travelling to far off lands and meeting lots of colourful characters along the way.

The creativity and imagination in putting together this piece of theatre is astounding. It’s a gorgeously fun way to spend an hour and a half and I would highly highly recommend it. There were little ones at the show with us and they seemed to enjoy it as much as the adults.

Extra performances have been added due to popular demand so you have up until April 14th to catch this show. Visit Smock Alley website for more info – tickets start from €12.

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Review: Wonderland Productions’ Dubliners Walking Experience

Joyce said of Ulysses, ‘I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book’, however the same could be said of his collection of short stories Dubliners.

A collection of 15 beautifully constructed short stories; Dubliners dips gently into the lives of a host of characters living in Dublin city around the beginning of the twentieth century. Even though Joyce wrote most of his work whilst living outside of Ireland, Dublin is perhaps one of his biggest and most influential characters in his work. Which is why it is a mecca for lovers of Joyce’s work, who come every year to explore the city that inspired one of the world’s greatest writers.

All this has led theatre producer Alice Coughlan to down her theatre tools and assemble quite a large cast of inspirationally-voiced actors, whom she recorded reading various selections of text from a number of different stories in Dubliners. What results is a tiny little mp3 player, which holds some beautiful recordings of these fabulous stories. However, Wonderland Productions’ Dubliners Walking Experience is not just about the recordings, it involves a map and the city of Dublin also. Slipping on your headphones and heading out onto these historical streets, you are immersed deep into each story.

To really make the experience effective, Coughlan has reworded and restructured some of the work to include more dialogue in each story, so that the characters can tell their stories more than the narratorial voice originally in the story. Two Gallants in particular is very striking, walking down Rutland Square (known to today’s Dubliner as Parnell Square East), we earwig on Lenehan and Corley discussing the generosity Corley has managed to receive from a certain lady friend.

The highlight for me was The Dead – the most striking story in the collection, it has its home in Usher’s Island and also The Gresham. While The Gresham piece wasn’t as poignant as it could have been due to the ridiculous amount of Dublin buses crawling by, the house on Usher’s Island was particularly special. Entering the house, you sit and listen to Lily the Caretaker being literally rushed off her feet and Gabriel making his entrance, peeling off his galoshes. Climbing up the stairs, we enter the drawing room and hear the wonderful music and conversation. We find the dining room is set for dinner and take our place at the table to listen to the dinner conversation. Arriving back downstairs, we gaze up the stairs as The Lass of Aughrim floats through the air – if there was anything that ironically could bring The Dead to life, it was this moment.

Various other stories are mapped out, with stops scattered across the city – the Church on Meath Street, Temple Bar, Ely Place, St. Stephen’s Green – they’re all packed in there in a half day tour that took us near on five hours to complete. There’s a full day tour available also which takes you out to Chapelizod as well as the city centre. The tour was extremely impressive, not just by how well the extracts have been delicately reworked in parts, and carefully recorded, but also by how well they bring the stories to life when listened to on site. It may perhaps be a bit too long for someone who isn’t entirely head over heels in love with Joyce, perhaps a shortened version taking about two hours long would be a more attractive activity, but for anyone who loves Joyce and would like to experience his work being really and truly brought to life, then it’s a must.

Visit the Wonderland Productions website for more information.

Tours take place every day, beginning at the Dublin Writer’s Museum, Parnell Square, with tickets starting from €10.

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