Talking Movies

June 27, 2017

June

New company Gorgeous Theatre launch with an almost entirely wordless production in the intimate surroundings of Trinity College’s Players Theatre.

Displaying June Poster.jpg

Bob (Noel Cahill) meets Alice (Helen McGrath). They hit it off, and from a romance that begins with childish enthusiasm they plan to go on a holiday away together in high summer. What could be more fun than swimming and building sand castles? But there’s something odd surrounding their preparations. Alice thinks she hears someone outside their door while they’re packing, but when Bob heroically leaps out with a knife to confront the lurking menace, there’s nobody there. But the enigmatic June (Emma Brennan) is indeed waiting, smoking, observing, manipulating, and getting ready to start interfering with gusto. Because far from being an innocent getaway for two, June insinuates herself, by ‘accident’, into their beach vacation, and soon the simple holiday is taking a distinct detour into surreal seductions in the vein of Pasolini’s Teorema or the Rocky Horror Show.

My regular theatre cohort Fiachra MacNamara confirmed the soundness of my initial flashbacks to the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe show The Ladder and the Moon, devised by Nessa Matthews, Ian Toner, and Eoghan Carrick. The mime of childish enthusiasm and romance was very similar, and may perhaps be inevitable when you try to convey such sentiments physically, but June is longer, darker, and more interested in the use of music than The Ladder and the Moon. There are indeed entire sequences set to music, like the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s ‘Take Five’ or Jens Lekman’s ‘Black Cab’, that veer almost from physical theatre to pure interpretive dance. Which is a bold move for a new company’s first show, given that people unapologetically walked out of Arlington at the Abbey recently; almost physically and ironically conveying the idea “I don’t do interpretive dance.”

Given this importance of music it should be no surprise there’s an almost Lynchian change in the soundtrack as the play progresses; a sunny, upbeat soundscape of Cliff Richard and Dave Brubeck is replaced by the moodiness of (perhaps) Chet Baker and the starkness of the Pixies’ ‘Hey’. Who is June? What is June? Daniel O’Brien’s story is more interested in raising questions like that than answering them, and director Ciaran Treanor plays on the contrast between June’s angelic white costume and her frequent disappearances into black space with a lit cigarette revealing her presence like a demonic eye. All of a part with the totemic but ambiguous action figures representing Bob and Alice. Cahill and McGrath perform some spectacular pratfalls in their energetic turns, and there is a delirious moment where melancholy music is actually revealed to be from a portable radio.

June is not going to appeal to everyone, but it is endearing throughout, with all three actors clearly giving it their all, and veers into unexpected territory right up to its ambiguous ending.

3/5

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June 16, 2017

Vermeer: Beyond Time

VERMEER BEYOND TIME documentary to screen across Ireland to celebrate forthcoming National Gallery of Ireland exhibition – Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry

Vermeer Beyond Time, a new documentary chronicling the life and times of one of the most-loved, treasured and well-known artists in the world today, Johannes Vermeer, will have screenings across the country this summer to coincide with the once-in-a-lifetime exhibition Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry at the National Gallery of Ireland from Saturday 17th June, in collaboration with the Musée du Louvre, Paris, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

In the feature documentary, Vermeer, Beyond Time, French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Cottet adopts an imaginative and sensitive approach to his subject focusing on the work itself but also explores Vermeer’s family life including his conversion to Catholicism, his artistic contemporaries and the wider world of the short lived Dutch Golden Age of the 17th Century. Cottet’s film explores the individual paintings and teases out what has come to be known as the Vermeer style; the representation of light, the interplay of colour and the effects of perspective across the same themes, places and objects.

Vermeer’s paintings are of a world inhabited by refined and cultivated women; respectful or troublesome servants; charming young people and learned men. His ruthless elimination of objects and things that serve no purpose results in an art that suspends time and that leaves us, the viewer, always wanting to know more. The film adds much to our understanding and knowledge of the painter, while still allowing for the mystery and allure of his art. Vermeer’s death in 1675 is sudden and incredibly sad.  Overwhelmed by poverty, physically weakened and humiliated, he dies at the age of 45.  Soon afterwards, his paintings are sold to cover his debts.  Vermeer disappears from memory.  His rediscovery some 200 years later has seen his popularity soar, claiming both our hearts and our admiration.

James Mitchell of Irish production company Soho Moon produced the documentary and it is narrated by Fiona Shaw.

Cert: PG

Running Time: 91 mins

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5U2hRC0oKU&feature=youtu.be

Vermeer, Beyond Time screens at the following cinemas on Wednesday 21st June – Gate Cork and Light House Dublin; Thursday 22nd June – Mermaid Arts Centre Bray; Sunday 9th July – Tracton The Inkwell Theatre Cork.  For future screenings, please contact Eclipse Pictures – details below

For advance ticket booking for the upcoming exhibition, Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry at The National Gallery of Ireland, go to www.nationalgallery.ie.

The exhibition, which had record numbers at the Paris venue and complimentary reviews in the international media, opens in the National Gallery of Ireland on Saturday 17th June and runs through to 17th September.  It will be the major Old Master exhibition in Europe this summer coinciding with the reopening of the National Gallery of Ireland’s refurbished historic wings and new display of the permanent collection which opens to the public on Thursday 15th June.

Conceived by the National Gallery of Ireland, this revelatory exhibition celebrates the work of Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) and will give new insights into the relationships the artist maintained with other great painters of the Dutch Golden Age.  It will bring together some 60 paintings from major public and private collections around the world. Ten masterpieces by Vermeer will be included representing nearly a third of the artist’s surviving works and the third highest number of works by Vermeer ever assembled. The National Gallery of Ireland’s own Vermeer, Woman Writing a Letter, with her Maid c.1670, which is regarded as one of the artist’s finest works, will be shown alongside other exquisite compositions including Woman with a Balance, c.1663–4 (National Gallery of Art, Washington); Woman with a Pearl Necklace, 1663–4 (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin); The Astronomer, 1668 (Musée du Louvre, Paris) and The Geographer, 1669 (Städel Museum, Frankfurt). Paintings of daily life by contemporaries of Vermeer, including Gerrit Dou, Gerard ter Borch, Jan Steen, Gabriel Metsu, Pieter de Hooch and Frans van Mieris, will also feature.

Dr Adriaan Waiboer, Head of Collections and Research at the National Gallery of Ireland, and curator of the exhibition, says: “Johannes Vermeer is frequently portrayed as an enigmatic figure working largely in isolation, but this exhibition clearly demonstrates how Vermeer’s subjects, compositions and figure types owe much to works by contemporary Dutch artists, including Gerrit Dou, Gerard ter Borch and Frans van Mieris, all of whom were more successful and influential in their time.” The exhibition brings together groups of paintings of domestic scenes – letter writing, in front of a mirror, musical scenes – and the obvious similarity of the compositions shows the interplay between artists – nonetheless Vermeer’s brilliance and originality brings new heights to the subjects and his work takes genre painting to a yet higher level.

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