TDFF: Age of Transition

First Written for The Reviews Hub September 2016

AgeofTransition_Peacock_CáitFahy

TIGER DUBLIN FRINGE FESTIVAL: Age of Transition – The Peacock Stage, Dublin

Creator: Aoife McAtamney

Reviewer: Laura Marriott

Age of Transition is a dance concert featuring Aoife McAtamney as star and singer, three dancers, and three musicians. The production hopes to explore different phases of love through the means of sound and movement. McAtamney sings seven self-penned songs that take the audience into a story of love and wondering. One highlight is a particularly beautiful song about wanting to be married and waiting for that moment to occur, waiting for the diamond to be offered. McAtamney has an endearing voice and these compositions allow her to show this. She is accompanied by three dancers who use slow gentle movements that change and accelerate with the feeling of the music. The dancers work well together and their movements flow with a natural feel. In a semi-circle around McAtamney are three musicians, a cellist, pianist and electronic musician who work in sync with the other performers while never overpowering the vocals. Each musician is particularly talented however the cellist Mary Barnecutt deserves particular praise.

McAtamney, stands out from the seven person production, wearing a gentle pink dress, with the others dressed in more muted, earthy tones. This productions and others like it help to show what can be done with such a simple staging. Having previously performed in sell out show at the festival this is a welcome and successful return for McAtamney. However Age of Transition is also a collaborative performance including work by composer Michael Gallen, Berlin dance troupe Sweetie Sit Down, and design by visual artist Kelly Tivnan.

For those familiar with this interdisciplinary form – the joining of music, dance and visual arts –will find much to delight in with Age of Transition. Those less familiar will still be entertained, however the musical interludes appeal most, with some of the dance breaks feeling slower and perhaps less meaningful. Running at an hour long Age of Transition holds the audience’s attention throughout and shows off McAtamney’s beautiful voice and song writing skills. Overall Age of Transition is an enchanting exploration of love and self – actualisation.

Runs until 16 September as part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival | Image: Cáit Fahy.

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score: 3.5*

Enchanting

 

Our Few and Evil Days (Review) – Krank.ie

First Published October 2014 on krank.ie


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Writer and Director: Mark O’Rowe
Starring: Ian Lloyd Anderson, Sinéad Cusack, Ciarán Hinds, Charlie Murphy and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor

Mark O’Rowe returns to the stage for the first time since 2007’s Transmission with a deeply chilling play about the modern Irish family and the lengths people will go to for those they love. Performed at the Abbey Theatre’s main stage, this sell out performance with an all-star cast marks an interesting turn towards the more radical with this curious investigation of grief, love and family ties.

The staging is the first indication that something different, something unusual is about to unfold. The first six or so rows of seats have been removed in order to extend the set outwards, right into the audience. Designed by Paul Wills, the stage portrays a recognisable domesticity. A middle class home, its living room and kitchen/diner comes right into the stalls, bringing the audience into the heart of the lives and household of Michael and Margaret.

Played by Hinds and Cusack they are flawless as a married couple; loving, passionate, and yet deeply sad. Hiding their grief beneath the skin of routine, half-truths and lies nearly forgotten. They give deeply powerful and unforgettable performances; to the extent that one can never imagine anyone else playing these characters. Hinds is exceptional as the husband and father defeated in trying to protect those he loves.

When their daughter Adele (Murphy) brings her boyfriend Dennis (Vaughan–Lawlor) home for the first time, his interest and questioning set in motion a chain of events and discoveries that undermine the ordinariness portrayed. By scratching the surface of a secret held right at the centre of what should be a very typical family, leading towards an unexpected conclusion.

O’Rowe’s dialogue has the characters constantly cutting over and interrupting each other. They query the assumptions made in general conversation to find humour in the very Irish vernacular. Despite, or perhaps because of, the dark subject matter the play is funny. O’Rowe’s decision to direct the play himself pays off. The use of dramatic lightening halts scenes abruptly, mirroring the stops and starts in the conversation to comic effect. The comedy begins to fall into tragedy as the love and shared history that binds the family together also threatens to break them apart.

Our Few and Evil Days looks underneath the rituals and assumptions that grow up around families and couples; finding something dangerous, almost sinister. An exciting new play, Our Few and Evil Days pushes the ideas of devotion, adoration and obligation within a family to their furthest limits. The unsettling conclusion finally brings meaning to the Biblically inspired title. This is one of the few times a theatre experience will be totally new and unique; with an ending that will leave any audience moved by what they have seen.

[Image: Abbey Theatre]

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Abbey Theatre, Dublin

First Published February 2015

AMSD - Ros Kavanagh

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Abbey Theatre, Dublin

Writer: William Shakespeare

Director: Gavin Quinn

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is being staged at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre for the first time in 35 years. Given the fact that this is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays this time gap is a little baffling however the Abbey seem to be rediscovering Shakespeare’s more magical texts since last year’s successful performance of Twelfth Night.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a story of lovers in ancient Athens who find their way through the confusion and magic of a night in the woods, populated by nymphs and fairies, to their final married end.

As it is so well known one of the difficulties for theatre companies hoping to stage a new production is how to make it surprising, how to bring out the comedy in jokes and scenarios that are so well known?

This is something Pan Pan have tackled head on by inverting the audience’s expectations and setting the play in a nursing home. This is a daring move by director Gavin Quinn. Quinn has worked with Pan Pan for many years and has pulled out all the stops for his Abbey theatre debut. The actors, many of them veterans of the Abbey, are sure and steady in this production. Four of them appeared in the Abbey’s last 1979 production.

Thwarted lover Hermia is denied permission to marry her beloved Lysander not by her father but by her son and Helena finds herself spurned by ageing lothario Demetrius. As they flee into the woods to avoid a marriage enforced by the Duke of Athens they walk into an argument between the King and Queen of the fairies, Oberon and Titania. When a six piece acting troupe get caught up in the middle of this the stage is set.

This excellent adaptation stays very close to Shakespeare’s text, comes at a time when the lack of rôles for older people within the acting industry are being questioned. Pan Pan without doubt deliver a deeply humorous and at times touching play the makes it clear that age is no barrier to acting ability and to the ability to entertain an audience.

The play’s multiple plot lines are well – handled and never become confusing. The famous play within a play; the tale of doomed lovers Pyramus and Thisbe, performed by the Rude Mechanicals makes the audience laugh continuously. Furthermore the way Pan Pan play with age allows for new areas of humour, with one scene in which mobile phones take the place of an almanac.

The attention to detail is exquisite; from the shoes worn by the nursing home assistants to the colour of the walls to the use of lighting and colour. The company augments the actors’ voices by using sound to elicit changes in emotion, from sincerity to humour. For example the play opens to the sound of Riders on the Storm, the curtains drawing back to show the home’s inhabitants exercising to the music.

The apparatus of a nursing home; Zimmer frames, wheelchairs and walking sticks are used successfully to comedic effect. The nursing home theme is carried through to the surreal setting of the woods as love potions and cures are delivered by drip and oxygen mask.

Pan Pan’s performance has innovated the tried and tested format of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and captured the timelessness of love.

Photo by Ros Kavanagh. Runs until March 28th.

Review Overview

The Public Reviews’ Score 4*

Timeless