Some Names Were Changed review: Noble purpose obscured by theatrical indulgence

Dublin Fringe Festival: The parodic format is entertaining but tests an audience’s patience

Some Names Were Changed: the audience vote for their preferred story. Photograph: Patricio Cassinoni

Some Names Were Changed: the audience vote for their preferred story. Photograph: Patricio Cassinoni

 

SOME NAMES WERE CHANGED

Upstairs, Project Arts Centre
★★☆☆☆
There is a noble purpose to this mockumentary project from 15th Oak Productions but it isn’t until the last five minutes of the 110 minute show that it reveals itself. Indeed, the real life roots of this play are poorly served by the parodic postdramatic format, which exploits an audience’s patience and willingness to participate in the telling tale of a marriage gone bad. In the pleasant, modest company of co-creator and compère Manus Halligan, much of the evening’s entertainment is actually enjoyable enough, as the audience vote for their preferred version of the story and take turns acting it out. However, there is a vast excess of material and almost 90 minutes in it is still very unclear what the thrust of the rambling narrative is.

On the evening of the performance I saw, the company seemed aware of this fatal flaw, and how to solve it, with Halligan dropping scenes on the spot, but the big cuts need to be made at the start. Indeed, the entire first section is almost totally unnecessary; a theatrical indulgence, even when Halligan explains its function in the final moments. There are some vital points about the relationship between truth and narrative, and the powerful ways in which we can manipulate both, but they are clouded rather than revealed by this misguided attempt to give voice to the voiceless. 

Runs as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival until Saturday, September 21st