Arachnophilia

Arachnophilia, The New Theatre – Dublin

Writer: Aidan Fitzmaurice
Director: Sarah Bradley
Having friends or family over to stay can be a fraught experience at times as ones house is taken over by another persons habits and demands. It turns out this is never more so than when the guest is a spider, or a Chilean rose tarantula to be precise. Not only that but it is apparently a well known phenomena that if a spider comes to stay ones spider sense (sorry) will soon be tingling and the day will be defined by feeding times and ukulele playing. And that is how is is in Aidan Fitzmaurice’s quirky comedy drama Arachnophilia.
Conor and Alice have been together for five years and it is time to start asking the big questions. The only problem with this is that Conor thinks they are having a conversation about children. Alice however thinks they are considering separating. When facing this new stage in life how is Conor to prepare; to lay the groundwork for a possible new family? Like many people he thinks that a pet will be a good idea. Whereas most people would come home with a puppy or a cat, Conor comes home with a spider. When Alice wants to know how a spider could possibly prepare one for having children she finds a quirk in Conor’s personality that had never shown itself before.
Alone with his spider Conor descends into a strange kind of obsession that quickly takes over his life (and work life). What he doesn’t know is that his pet can hear and understand everything he says. Bellhop lives in his glass box with his exoskeleton for company. They (yes the exoskeleton can move and talk) are a web weaving, game playing couple that adapt quite well to the idea of being spiders trapped in a glass with only a human being for company. That is until the singing starts. And the terrible movies. And hang on … what’s with the wasp without a sting?
Hugely entertaining Arachnophilia somewhat defies description. Full of laughs and spider related puns it has a touch of the absurd but this only adds to the comedy. It would be great to have the chance to slip into the mind of the writer as he created the premise. On Saturday The New Theatre was packed, with people standing at the back of the theatre in order to see the show. The set was very well done with Conor’s home life and Bellhop’s split down the middle; as they constantly interact but never manage to communicate.
Arachnophilia is charming and unusual. Full of laughs but some heart too this was an enjoyable and one of a kind play.
P.S. For those terrified of spiders, like myself, there are no creepy crawlies to be afraid of (unless a talking exoskeleton debating class war is not your thing).
Cast: Caoimhe Mulcahy, Harry Butler, Ian Dunphy, Meg Healy and Tony Canwell.
Presented Octopussouptheatre.

Pacemaker

First Written for The Reviews Hub

Pacemaker – Smock Alley, Dublin

For Pacemaker the day couldn’t get worse. But then it does.

Two women are at work. They have never gotten on and soon things develop into a full-scale feud when they find themselves speaking to management. Charges range from ‘she smells of egg’ to ‘she ate my sandwiches’. Oh and a mistimed joke about weight loss. Things intensify until the recently promoted Pacemaker finds herself being escorted out of the building to begin a week of temporary suspension before her disciplinary hearing. The week goes downhill from here. Soon she finds herself having a strange conversation with a pharmacist about the morning after pill, being accused of stealing shoes in a dole centre and running away from the scene despite the cries of ‘murderer’ coming after her. At the same time her former colleague finds herself engulfed by guilt which she then drowns in wine and drunken mistakes. For both characters one small action goes on to effect the rest of their week as they have to face who they are while also being forced to leap through various comic hoops.

The scenes in the dole centre and the pharmacy are hilarious. They begin as something recognisable before escalating into something absurd and strange; Pacemaker is living a week long nightmare told through the lens of comedy. The dialogue is fresh and pacey. The speed of the piece does not drop for a second so the 30 minutes go by in a flash. Movement, speech and facial expressions are timed perfectly.

The play is performed by Meg Healy and Camille Lucy Ross. Both Ross and Healy are very fine comic actresses and have the audience laughing from the beginning with a short silent routine before the conversation begins. There were also moments for the audience to take away with them that are honest and touching. Anyone, including this reviewer, who has ever had a day they just wished would end will be able to return to Pacemaker and breathe a sigh of relief that they are not living her life.

Pacemaker, written by Ciara Elizabeth Smyth, is a must see and a highlight of the Dublin theatre calendar. It is with excitement that we will wait for Smyth’s next piece of work.

Runs until 25 February 2017 | Image: Contributed

Review Overview: 5*