Twenty Fifty review: a confused and confusing collaboration

Dublin Fringe Festival: Interesting ideas get lost amidst the casual ‘improvised’ banter of interview format

Rapid fire rounds, where Fionnuala Gygax’s questions were posed as ‘would you rathers’ and directed towards a specific context (the future climate emergency), provided a little more energy to proceedings

Rapid fire rounds, where Fionnuala Gygax’s questions were posed as ‘would you rathers’ and directed towards a specific context (the future climate emergency), provided a little more energy to proceedings

 

Twenty Fifty

Online
★★☆☆☆

What will the world be like in 2050? Fionnuala Gygax wonders in Twenty Fifty, a confused and confusing collaboration with director Dan Colley. The ‘live online’ performance is conducted as an interview with a special guest, but the questions that Gygax asks her interlocutor are much more mundane than the opening gambit suggests. Do you prefer being on your own or with others? Do you have a special song? What’s on your favourite tapas platter?

On the evening of my viewing, invited guest Tom Gilmore answered laconically, almost monosyllabically, so Gygax’s questions were repeated and drawn out for specificity. The audience, watching the show and each other in gallery view via Zoom, were occasionally invited to participate: to reveal their own preference for place or person. Technical challenges made these segments of interaction clunky, even if they did keep us in the “present moment” of the live experience. Rapid fire rounds, where Gygax’s questions were posed as ‘would you rathers’ and directed towards a specific context (the future climate emergency), provided a little more energy to proceedings. 

Several structured monologues continue the apocalyptic theme of the piece, and director Dan Colley, dressed perfectly for Zoom in a tuxedo top and casual bottoms, steps in to provide prompts and props for these sections, which are performed unselfconciously and with genuine alarm by Gygax. Unfortunately, Colley fails to find a throughline to help Gygax guide us through the unfocused narrative. We are aware, early on, that everything in the patchwork performance must be building to a climactic revelation. When it comes, however, it is not what we are expecting. Indeed it brings little clarity to proceedings. 

There are some interesting ideas in Twenty Fifty, mostly around the rituals of performance, but they get lost amidst the casual ‘improvised’ banter of the interview format. It is a pity, because, in its final moments, Colley and Gygax make a passionate plea for the future of the theatre and it is almost moving. Ultimately, however, it is a message that would be better enacted than declaimed.

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