The Arc, part VIII: La Reine Claude builds towards its conclusion

The action takes a violent turn in the hands of Brokentalkers

In the latest instalment to The Arc, our collaborative theatrical project with Dublin Theatre Festival, Gary Keegan and Feidlim Cannon of Brokentalkers have added to the contributions of Bush Moukarzel, Kate Heffernan, Stacey Gregg, Sonya Kelly, Deirdre Kinahan, Tom Murphy and Enda Walsh. The remaining playwrights in the project are Michael West, and Genevieve Hulme-Beaman.

On Sunday, the play received a rehearsed reading in the Projet Arts Centre as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival. Annabelle Comyn directed, with Kate Stanley Brennan playing Karolina, Niamh McCann playing Paulina and Declan Conlon playing the part of Mulcahy.

La Reine Claude, Part VIII

KAROLINA hands PAULINA the carving knife and a tin of Paint. PAULINA opens the tin of paint with the carving knife.



Lights up on apartment. The floor is covered in white sheets. KAROLINA and PAULINA are wearing red raincoats and blue wellington boots and both are covered in white paint. PAULINA holds the carving knife.

MULCAHY is in the armchair. He is naked. His hands, feet and head are tied to an armchair with leather straps. His left arm is connected to a saline drip. He has been painted white. From the suitcase PAULINA takes out a large frame with an image that the audience never see.

KAROLINA I told you you had something belonging to me.

MULCAHY (crying) Please stay away from my art. It is private. My private collection.

KAROLINA Private? She picks up paint can and smashes it off his groin

KAROLINA Extreme realism, the art of representing an image where everything is in focus, where everything you see is literal as if the image itself, be it a bowl of plums or a beautiful queen or two young sisters.

MULCAHY Those are my words

KAROLINA The goal of extreme realism is to capture a moment in pain, sorry a moment in paint like a photograph snaps a picture, to show the goose bumps or the snot on the skin of a bare body, to catch the slightest glimmer of fear and carry it off the canvas and into the mind of the viewer so you look at it and think, This six year old girl IS cold. This eight year old girl IS calling for her mother to come and take her home and cuddle her.

MULCAHY Why are you speaking my works back to me.

PAULINA They are not your words. No one owns words.

MULCAHY This combination of words then. I used to speak this combination of words. To students.

KAROLINA To our mother.

MULCAHY I don’t remember

KAROLINA Did you take this photograph of my sister and me?

MULCAHY It’s not a photograph.

PAULINA goes once more to the microphone stand and speaks the following.

PAULINA To own a portrait is to purchase a piece of a soul, to exchange a moment of private terror for money.

MULCAHY It’s not a photograph. That never really took place.

PAULINA It cultivates a desire to interact with its subject, to carry forward this exchange of feelings.

MULCAHY You were never actually there. Like that. In that pose.

KAROLINA Look closer you art motherfucker. And tell me that’s not real fear on my sister’s six year old face.

PAULINA The problem of course with extreme realism is that after a time the experience of looking at it becomes less extreme. You tire of it.

MULCAHY It’s just a painting. It’s not real. MULCAHY repeats “It’s not real” during the following text.

PAULINA The two innocent subjects in the portrait have left nothing for the viewer to imagine. It is too realistic but some how not real enough for the occasion and so the artist looks for other methods of expression, more visceral, more real, more felt.

Paulina hands Karolina the carving knife and she removes Mulcahy’s eyes. During the eye removal Paulina stands at the microphone and sings a POLISH KARAOKE version of ‘I Wanna Know What Love Is’ by Anglo American rock band Foreigner.