At the Kilkenny Arts Festival Gerry Colgan reviews The Yokohama Delegation at the Desart House and The Bear Who Asked Why at the Callan Parish Hall

Kilkenny Arts Festival

The Yokohama Delegation, Desart House, Kilkenny

The Performance Corporation, which had a hit at last year's Kilkenny Arts Festival, has a new work, by Tom Swift, at this year's celebration. It is produced in a modern office block to match the play's setting and theme, a device usually labelled site-specific.

Despite this, and the unrestrained energy of the cast, the company does not repeat its earlier success.

After a novel and somewhat tedious preamble in the foyer, the audience is ushered upstairs to a long rectangular room with bench seating at the sides, and a long ramp in the centre that contains the action.

We learn that the Yokohama Corporation deals in selling aids to achieving success, defined as money, sex and power.

The main product is a Personality Repair Package, and the Hibernian Branch has been researching an improved version it calls the Golden Fleece.

This opens the door to the introduction of Jason Jason, a failed employee trying to make a comeback by gaining control of the Fleece. Names like Medea and Cyclops are introduced in a vain attempt to strengthen the feeble analogy with Greek legend. A delegation from head office in Japan has apparently found the new Irish product a failure, and Jason is trying to get there first to gain control. It is all very confused and confusing, interspersed with raucous music, acrobatic movement sequences and lurid costumes.

Next the audience is shunted into a different room; there to remain standing while a futuristic, mad-scientist scenario is enacted. Jason becomes a megalomaniac, but it has been signalled at the start that his downfall is imminent.

The 80-minutes production is something of an incoherent pursuit of an elusive comedy, and the best efforts of sterling actors such as Rory Nolan, Carrie Crowley, Stephen Swift and Lisa Lambe, directed by Jo Mangan, cannot redeem it. Runs to August 21st. - Gerry Colgan

The Bear Who Asked Why, Callan Parish Hall, Kilkenny

Aimed at children in the six to nine age group, this delightful little parable, seen at the Kilkenny Arts Festival last weekend, was a gem. The eponymous bear is a teddy, but an old and shabby one. His owner has long since grown up, and he just sits in a corner of a couch. But one day a fly comes buzzing around, landing anywhere and licking everything. It asks the bear what good he is now, but he doesn't know.

Still, he is stimulated to find out, and sets off on a journey, putting the question to any living thing that he meets. A hen tells him that if he can't lay eggs, he's a hopeless case. A swan finds his lack of elegance a downer.

A bee disdains his inability to make honey. A monkey king observes that he lacks authority.

Everything he meets considers him a write-off, even the elephant that dismisses him because his innards are stuffing and wool, not those of a living creature. It looks like back to the sofa with the bear, but his luck changes when he meets a little girl.

The production is by Teater Patrasket from Denmark, and the story is narrated by a young man, a real charmer of extraordinary interpretative skills. With only a small screen behind him, he moves into the numerous roles and, through a combination of mime, music and vocal dexterity, holds his audience spellbound for 40 minutes or so. It is a pity that his name is not given on the supplied omnibus programme; it would have been worth noting. - Gerry Colgan