Crowdsourcing the drama: this week’s must-see theatre productions
‘The Fever’ pulls the audience into the action and The End of Eddy pulls few punches
The Fever: this house party with a twist is hosted by New York company 600 Highwaymen as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival
Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin October 9th-12th 8pm (October 13th-14th matinee 2pm) €20-€25 dublintheatrefestival.com
You are invited to a house party in this sparing piece by New York alternative theatre company 600 Highwaymen, hosted by Marianne, a woman that may be represented by the person sitting beside you, or across from you or, perhaps, by you yourself. The gentle conceit of Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone’s work, premiered at the Under the Radar festival early last year, is that the audience supply the detail, conscripted into the roles of party guests, mirroring the actors’ gestures, lifting or catching a performer as a group.
Audience participation is now such a staple of contemporary theatre it’s hard to shiver at the prospect, and those who saw Every Brilliant Thing will remember how collaboration among strangers, with a light touch, can elevate a simple idea into a shared experience that lingers long in the mind. That 600 Highwaymen come to Dublin with a show modelling co-operation and support among strangers, at a time when our image of the US is one of bitter division, is no small point. Here, then, is an antidote to the rancour, while we wait for the fever to break.
The End of Eddy
In one late scene from Édouard Louis’s staggering debut novel, an autobiographical account of growing up gay in working-class northern France, the narrator’s father seethes while driving him to a drama school audition. “Wasting petrol for this theatre shit of yours,” he says. “Really, why should I?” It may count as one of the novel’s more tender moments, among a catalogue of violent abuse and homophobia, because theatre becomes the making of Eddy, and the end of his vexed adolescence. In Pamela Carter’s adaptation of the sensational novel, the theatre restages his transformation in director Stewart Laing’s innovative and unsparing production. Two performers share the role of Eddy, whose life is also represented on video screens, like the jagged, media-saturated existence of a boy growing up in the early years of this century. Aimed first at a teenage audience, but open to all, the show pulls back from the more brutal scenes described in the book, but not by much. Anyone with compassion for a boy discovering himself against awful circumstance, and a fondness for this inventive theatre shit, will happily spare the petrol.