Fringe festival: to Hell and back
The history, decanted along with increasingly potent tastings, is fascinating then fuzzy; from international supply lines forged by early Christian monks (an elegant Riesling) to the great-craic- altogether-sounding 18th century “Wine Geese” families who influenced Bordeaux’s production (a ripe and earthy Pinot Noir), then something about this Irish guy in Mexico (Réserve Médoc, yum . . . ), and – hey! – the Fringe is 18! Let’s sing and have a brandy! “There is wine in our blood,” argues Boyle – convincingly – although, seemingly quaffing throughout, she might have played more with the subversive implications.
Please enjoy it sensibly.
Until September 19th
– Peter Crawley
Anna in Between
Players Theatre TCD **
Anna has not been feeling herself lately; sleeping late, withdrawing frequently, overwhelmed easily. What difference this makes to her personality is anyone’s guess, as the protagonist of James Hickson and Rosemary McKenna’s new musical for Pillow Talk is more condition than character: symptoms of depression in search of a person. Spinning through a fractured depiction of her generic path from adolescence to adulthood, where scenes involving family, friends, school and work each warp towards the surreal, Anna is somewhere between Wonderland and heavy sedation, owing conspicuous debt to Anthony Neilson’s The Wonderful World of Dissocia.
Representing mental disorders onstage is a challenge, equally prey to alienating sullenness or glib escapist fantasies. Sara Joyce works hard to find flesh in her character, assisted by Anne Gill as her supportive mother, Gerard Adlum’s teasing/caring brother and Jane Deasy’s sensitive compositions. But for all the production’s ambitions Anna seems distrusted and finally abandoned, endlessly circumscribed by wearying comic caricatures, worthy of sympathy but rarely a more humanising struggle.
– Peter Crawley
Smock Alley Theatre, Boys School **
A French bag lady (Mag, played by Marie-Geneviève Linotte) welcomes a Fringe Festival audience into her world. She is wearing a red clown nose and has fashioned an upside-down lampshade into a hat. Over the next 50 minutes, she’ll lasciviously scoop cake icing into her mouth, she’ll whirl around the room doing a good banshee impression, and she’ll shudder to orgasm clutching a dusty soldier’s uniform to her groin. She’ll reveal that she has daddy issues and that she’s a single mother. She’ll cajole (very willing on this night) audience members into joining her on stage. There will be some text (in French and in English), there will be some pre-recorded narration and there will be lots of physical play.
If this sounds incoherent, that’s because, unfortunately, it is. Linotte is a brave performer, unafraid of looking stupid, but the project lacks the discipline that could have granted the madness meaning.
– Lynn Enright
The Circus of Perseverance
The Back Loft ****
Tonight will be a night of “rambling prose with no end in sight”, bellows the charismatic if sinister Ringmaster (Shane Carroll) opening The Circus of Perseverance. Never a truer word. For, despite strong performances (Paul Marron and Amy Kellett in particular), sharp dialogue, a wonderfully ambitious use of the setting at the Back Loft (Mike McGovern), and a rich soundscape provided by a live band in the gallery, the Circus tumbles head first into one of the Fringe’s deadliest traps: it was far too long.
Billed as a 75-minute “high-spirited, comedic tribute to Dublin city”, Gonzo Theatre’s production was laugh-out-loud in (many) places and could have been a five-star show with some judicious editing of the seven interwoven stories it used to hold a mirror up to the capital.