The past is always present: This week’s theatre highlights

Dylan Coburn Gray’s Citysong, and Ann Blake’s Morning After the Life Before

Citysong

Citysong

 

CITYSONG

Abbey Theatre, Abbey Street Lower, Dublin 1.
Previews May 25th-28th, opens May 29th-June 8th, 7.30pm (Saturday matinée 2pm). abbeytheatre.ie

The easiest way of describing Dylan Coburn Gray’s already award-winning new work, co-produced by the Abbey and the Soho Theatre, is as a play for voices. That befits a trailblazing theatre maker and a spoken-word artist who observes no fixed barrier between the two. It’s also the subtitle to Dylan Thomas’s Under Milkwood, a polyphonic love song to a sleepy Welsh town teeming with life. In Citysong, Dublin gets similarly poetic treatment, a beautiful glimpse of a single day in the capital, through the eyes of one extended family, which both summons the details of its history while serving as a real record of the time.

“Look,” commands a voice, “the spire’s a spindle or axis and while it’s not vinyl the city is a record of all that has happened to us, is happening, or will.”

Guided by pleasing internal rhymes and given a compelling flow, Coburn Gray’s writing is captivating without drawing attention to itself. Here vivid details and character perspectives gyre, like the humorous account of a new birth which will trigger an older character’s poignant recollection of womanhood and girlhood. Lightly inscribed with the changing face of the nation, it’s compassionate and persuasive, an entirely contemporary piece that knows the past is always present.

Directed by Caitríona McLaughlin, the production transfers to London shortly after its premiere, a satisfying feat of record hopping.

THE MORNING AFTER THE LIFE BEFORE

Viking Theatre, Clontarf, Co Dublin. Ends May 25th, 8pm, vikingtheatredublin.com

Something that feels both cheering and canny has been the quick transition of the 2015 Marriage Equality Referendum from celebration into product. Earlier in the year we saw repeat performances of Colin Dunne’s A Day in May, a verbatim piece adapted from Charlie Bird’s collection of testimonies, and now Gúna Nua’s widely travelled and much-acclaimed production of Ann Blake’s personal reflections returns for another bite of the cherry. There’s nothing wrong with that: long struggles finally overcome and jubilant victories have always been stories worth telling. That is how legends are born.

Blake plays herself in the show, accompanied by Lucia Smyth who plays everyone else, telling a story that many will find familiar: first coming to terms with her sexuality, emboldened later in a relationship with her partner Jenny, and on through the galvanising campaign for equality.

“How’s the morning after the life before?” Blake’s brother texted her after the landslide victory: so much Yes. Through the eyes of one playful individual, whose life story balances humour and heartache, you can see again the difference a day made.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.