Neighbourhood Watch

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Neighbourhood Watch, Dublin Fringe Festival 2018, The Complex

Creators: Mango x MathMan

Neighbourhood Watch is the closest one can get to what it must have felt like at the birth of hip-hop. Did those in attendance at house parties across 1970s New York know that they were witnessing the birth of a musical genre that would travel around the globe?

A small crowd gathered outside waiting to be allowed in. As the night progressed more and more people tried to make their way in. Queuing up outside felt like waiting to enter a club. The mood was relaxed; everyone was there to have a good time. There were lots of bottles of water, cans of flavoured cider and vodka being added to seven up bottles. Unlike other festival productions on entry, tickets were ripped up and wrists stamped.

The large, white room of The Complex that had been taken over for the night felt a little like a warehouse with its high ceiling and white walls. The night began properly at 11 pm and soon it felt like a night to remember. The music was loud, blanketing everything inside. It was easy to let it seep into one’s body as time slipped away. It is surprising how revitalising music can be. Images were projected onto the wall behind the performers and it was a reminder of how interesting it can be to see musicians and producers at work.

Attending Neighbourhood Watch is the coolest this reviewer has felt for a very long time (however, it is definitely not fashionable to be the first to arrive). Mango x MathMan know how to both pay homage to those that paved the way while also creating something new and distinct to them. They also know how to choose complementary special guests, each of whom added to the atmosphere. Homegrown hip hop has not always been appreciated as it should; this event helps to correct that. One could argue that this was an unusual production to be a part of a fringe festival however it was, without a doubt, a valuable and worthwhile one.

Image: Contributed

Knowing Nathan

Knowing Nathan – The Complex, Dublin
Writers: Tony Doyle and Laura O’Shea
Director: Claudia Kinahan

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(Laura O’Shea as April and Tony Doyle as Danny)

Knowing Nathan, currently running at The Complex, is the new play from actors and writers Tony Doyle and Laura O’Shea.

When Tallaght native Danny meets Limerick girl April in a pub on the Dublin Quays their lives will be altered forever.

Knowing Nathan begins with a kick. For the audience the jokes about Dublin and Limerick stereotypes went down a treat as April and Danny discover that they have a lot in common. The conversation moves quickly as does their relationship. Soon they go from meeting in pubs and bars to being introduced to the parents and sharing a home. Their relationship is hit with a surprise that will determine whether love will conquer all.

Knowing Nathan is funny and sparky from the off. As Danny and April’s monologues join together into one flow of conversation and ideas, the way in which they speak mirrors their relationship. There are many laugh out loud moments as their relationship begins to blossom. Doyle and O’Shea occasionally slip into other characters with just a change in stance and accent. They bounce off each other excellently and are convincing as a young couple in love and under pressure. As the narrative evolves Knowing Nathan becomes something delicate and full of emotion; surprising the audience with how much they can feel in the space of an hour.

The duo make good use of staging and props; evoking the idea of home, parents, pubs, a hospital and an empty bed with simplicity and fluidity. Knowing Nathan is a beautiful play that moves with ease between humour and sadness; told with sincerity and skill. I went into this play not knowing what to expect but this was an evening well spent. There was a full house and a standing ovation at tonight’s performance. Book ahead to guarantee a seat.

Runs Until 27th January 2018.

Who Will Carry the Word?

Who Will Carry the Word? – The Complex, Dublin

Director: Cliodhna McAllister

Writer: Charlotte Delbo

 

Blacklight productions present the Irish premiere of Charlotte Delbo’s play Who Will Carry the Word? This play, and the playwright, are criminally under known and this offers an opportunity to bring Delbo’s experiences and writings to a whole new audience.

 

Who Will Carry the Word? draws on Delbo’s wartime experiences as an active member of the French Resistance, who along with other members of her brigade, was taken prisoner and eventually sent to Auschwitz. Delbo and her fellow comrades had prepared for the thought of prison and even torture, but nothing could prepare them for the reality they were about to find themselves in. This was a place where, Delbo tells us, truth, certainty and all past understanding no longer had any meaning. The only question left, was whether to try to survive, or to die. For some suicide was the only right, the only choice they felt they had left. For others the need to survive outweighed all of the horror. After so many deaths it became essential that their experiences, their voices, could be heard, and given meaning. For these resistance fighters the act of resistance didn’t end with their capture.

 

This is one of the few times that a play might benefit from being performed on a smaller stage: to emphasise the feeling of claustrophobia, of closed doors and no chance to escape. The large open space of the stage invited the audience in, however it meant that the action was at times spread too far apart, with key moments occurring to the left or right of the audience’s viewpoint. A large all female cast pull together to imitate standing at roll call, in straight lines, unable to hold onto each other. For the rest of the time only several actresses are brought to the fore. For many of us this will be our first time hearing about the female experience of Auschwitz.

 

Sound and lighting were used to great effect. At times searchlights roam over the women. Each woman straightens her back and looks ahead when caught in the light. Sirens and gunshots are well timed to complement the action on stage. The production improves as it progresses. The philosophies being debated at the beginning become increasing personal. The audience become attached to the characters as more is revealed about them. The final scene is tenderly told and devastating. It would have been easy to over play this section however the director and actors manage to infuse the final moments of the play with honesty and a sad beauty.

 

Each character has a five digit number tattooed onto her arm. An important reminder that they represent real women who suffered this horrendous fate. Although it is not quite possible to say that one enjoyed this production it was one of the most singular and worthwhile theatre going experiences in Dublin this year. This is an ambitious production that attempts to tell a difficult story and it can only be enhanced as more and more people take the opportunity to see Who Will Carry the Word?.

 

Runs Until 2nd December 2017 at the Complex, Dublin 7. Running time 1hr 40 mins.