Talking Movies

April 5, 2018

The Approach

Mark O’Rowe returns as both playwright and director with his first new play since 2014’s Our Few and Evil Days and it’s another intricate puzzle.

Cora (Cathy Belton) hasn’t seen Anna (Aisling O’Sullivan) for a while when they meet for a coffee. This is a recurring theme. Later Cora hasn’t seen Denise (Derbhle Crotty) for a while when they meet for a coffee. And when Anna and Denise finally meet for a coffee neither has seen Cora for a while. An awful lot of coffee might be drunk but this is not a physically rambunctious play, for all that chairs are hanging in mid-air like they’d been flung at the ceiling. The sisters Anna and Denise are estranged and Cora is engaged in the tricky task of trying to remain friends with both of them, and the even trickier task of maybe pushing them towards rapprochement. Although maybe that’s not what she’s doing, maybe she’s the source of their estrangement. This is O’Rowe after all.

It’s hard not to feel that O’Rowe is playing the same three card trick he successfully pulled off with Our Few and Evil Days.

3.5/5

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January 24, 2018

ADIFF 2018

Filed under: Talking Movies — Fergal Casey @ 7:41 pm
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The full ADIFF 2018 programme has finally been revealed and Bill Pullman, Vanessa Redgrave, Paul Schrader, Cillian Murphy, Barry Keoghan, Lance Daly, Nora Twomey, Paddy Considine, Sandy Powell, and Lynne Ramsay will all be coming to Dublin.  There will be seven World Premieres and a total of over 100 features screened, nearly all receiving their Irish Premiere. Tickets are released for sale at www.diff.ie from 7 pm today and the Box Office is open at 12 East Essex Street (+353 (0) 1 6877974) from 10 am 25thJan.


Gráinne Humphreys, Festival Director, says “This year’s ADIFF programme is a line-up of films that are rich, exciting and wonderful. They reflect the truly global culture of film-making as well as celebrating the strength and depth of Irish film talent. It’s a selection that aims to inspire and entertain film lovers of every age and taste, including the youngest at Fantastic Flix. Our special guests include some of the finest performers and film-makers in the world and I’m particularly delighted to be welcoming our Volta Award recipients, Paul Schrader and Vanessa Redgrave to Dublin. Alongside the very best of new Irish and international cinema, there are echoes of film history in our silent film presentations and Cedric Gibbons Season, and an amazing glimpse of the future at the Immersive Stories: Conference and Exhibition, which brings the pioneers of virtual and augmented reality creation to Dublin.”

Some strands of the programme have already been covered in previous posts so let’s concentrate on what’s new.

Galas and Special Presentations
The Opening Gala will be the Irish Premiere of Black 47, the most hotly-anticipated Irish film of the year. Lance Daly directs this gripping thriller set during the Famine. Lance Daly and a selection of the cast including James Frecheville, Barry Keoghan, Moe Dunford, and Stephen Rea will attend. One of Hollywood’s finest, Bill Pullman, attends the festival for the Irish Premiere of his new Western The Ballad of Lefty Brown, a superb addition to his distinguished body of cinematic work stretching back three decades. Amongst cinema’s most distinctive filmmakers, Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin, Morvern Callar) visits for the Special Presentation of her Cannes prize-winning thriller You Were Never Really Here. Irish-Spanish co-production, Muse, is a seductive supernatural thriller that was both set and shot in Dublin and will screen as a Special Presentation. Irish director Nora Twomey will attend the long-awaited Irish Premiere Special Presentation of her animated drama The Breadwinner, which has been Oscar-nominated in the Best Animated Feature category for 2018. From Kilkenny’s Cartoon Saloon, this is a powerful story of an Afghan girl passing as a boy to work to help her family survive. Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave will receive one of the two 2018 ADIFF Volta Awards, the festival’s most prestigious award, for her lifetime of achievement in cinema at the Irish Premiere of her passionate new documentary on the refugee crisis, Sea Sorrow. Her co-director and son Carlo Nero will also attend. Paul Schrader will also receive a Volta Award and is honoured for his extensive work as a director and screenwriter. Schrader’s acclaimed new film First Reformed starring Ethan Hawke will receive its Gala Irish Premiere at the festival. Schrader will also give an in-depth Public Talk and, as this year’s Guest Curator, will introduce three classic films that have inspired his work. Rounding off the festival with the ultimate in escapist cinema, ADIFF 2018’s Closing Gala is C’est La Vie. This funny, irreverent and charming French film is Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano’s follow-up to their box-office sensation The Intouchables and will leave festival audiences smiling until 2019.

Guest Highlights
The World Premiere of The Delinquent Season sees one of Ireland’s finest playwrights, Mark O’Rowe, make his debut as film director with a tale of two seemingly successful Dublin couples facing unexpected challenges. The stellar Irish cast includes Cillian Murphy and Eva Birthistle, both of whom will attend the premiere. Stacy Cochran will attend the World Premiere of her new film Write When You Get Work, a witty, knowing tale of success and excess on the Upper East Side, shot by Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Elswit (There Will Be Blood). Three-time Oscar-winning Costume Designer Sandy Powell will visit for two new films that showcase her talents. She will take part in a Q&A after Todd Hayne’s Wonderstruck and introduce John Cameron Mitchell’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties. One of Ireland’s most provocative and challenging film artists, director Alan Gilsenan attends the World Premiere of his visceral and highly-charged new film, The Meeting. Actor/Director Paddy Considine visits the festival for the screening of his second feature as director Journeyman, a raw, powerful boxing drama in which Considine delivers an unforgettable performance. Canadian director Kathleen Hepburn attends the festival for her intimate portrait of grief and independence Never Steady, Never Still. Director Marc Meyers will attend the screening of My Friend Dahmer, a chilling look at the youth of real-life serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Irish Film and Talent
ADIFF 2018 is packed with Irish talent, with more homegrown highlights with directors in attendance including Irish Premieres of Aoife McArdle’s incendiary debut, Kissing Candice, and Good Favour, the third feature from Rebecca Daly which sees a religious community give shelter to an enigmatic outsider. Director David Freyne will attend the Irish Premiere of his fiendishly clever take on the zombie film, The Cured. Andrew Quirke’s hilarious Dublin double-act hits the big screen with the World Premiere of Damo & Ivor: The Movie.

Crime and Law
French actor-turned-director Xavier Legrand will attend his dazzling debut, Custody, about a court decision that tears a family apart.  Director/co-writer Yves Hinant and his co-writer Jean Libon will attend the screening of So Help Me God, a documentary following the unconventional and sometimes outrageous Belgian judge Anne Gruwez. Warwick Thornton follows his critically-acclaimed Samson & Delilah with an outback Western, Sweet Country. Director Jean-François Hensgens and armed robber-turned-filmmaker François Troukens attend the festival with their slick heist thriller Tueurs/Above the Law. Matthias Heeder attends the screening of Pre-Crime, a documentary exploring ‘protective policing’, a sci-fi staple that is becoming all too real. John McBratney, retired Senior Counsel will chair a special panel discussion on the Crime and Law strand, which also includes The Ciambra, Racer and the Jailbird, The Line, The Meeting and Have a Nice Day.

International Programme
French-language films include Xavier Beauvois’ The Guardians, Laurent Cantet’s The Workshop, Xavier Giannoli’s Apparition and Coralie Fargaet’s Revenge. The wider international selection includes representation from Japan (The Third Murder), Australia (Sweet Country), Indonesia (Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts), Israel (Foxtrot), Ecuador (Yasuni Man), Germany (Casting, In the Fade),Romania (Ana, Mon Amour), Norway (What Will People Say), Argentina (Zama), and Iran (Israfil). The contemporary cinema of Hong Kong is explored in a five-film season, with the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office Belgium, that includes a visit from Angie Chen, director of I’ve Got the Blues. The season will also feature intimate war drama Our Time Will Come, the mysterious crime drama Somewhere Beyond the Mist, the offbeat and tranquil coming-of-age drama The White Girl, and dynamic action thriller Paradox. Actress Anna Krotoska will attend the screening of Polish character-driven psychological thriller Tower: A Bright Day. Selected to celebrate the centenary of Polish Independence, there is a rare chance to see Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s 1977 award-winning Death of the President. Highlights from across the Atlantic include sneak previews of Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow, Wes Anderson’s new animation Isle of Dogs, and Liam Neeson in Watergate drama Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House. British selections include Sebastían Lelio’s Disobedience with Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz; Sheila Hancock in Simon Hunter’s Edie; and Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy in Isabel Coixet’s The Bookshop. Irish rising star Jessie Buckley gives a breakthrough film performance in writer/director Michael Pearce’s dark and delicious new British film Beast. English-language international documentaries include an intimate look at Leon Vitali’s life as Stanley Kubrick’s right hand man in Film-worker, the unexpected treat of a second visit to the Beales of Grey Gardens in That Summer, the swinging sixties narrated by Michael Caine in That Generation, and a magical time capsule of found footage in Bill Morrison’s Dawson City: Frozen Time.

Cedric Gibbons
Dublin-born Cedric Gibbons was the most successful art director in the history of cinema, responsible for MGM’s reputation as Hollywood’s number one ‘dream factory’. ADIFF 2018 celebrates his work with the Cedric Gibbons Retrospective featuring The Big Parade, Dinner at Eight, Grand Hotel, and An American in Paris, as well as a one-day conference at NCAD Gallery from 2nd March. An exhibition will run at the NCAD Gallery 2nd-31st March.

Awards
Film-goers themselves will select their favourite film of the Festival with the AUDI-ence award. The winning film-makers will be flown to the Berlin International Film Festival in 2019 where they will enjoy a true VIP Audi experience. This year’s ADIFF Discovery Award nominees are a testament to the strength of and depth of the new generation of film talent making their mark in a competitive but thriving industry. The nominees are actors Ryan Lincoln (Kissing Candice), Jessie Buckley (Beast), Rory Fleck Byrne (Inbox), Actors/Directors/Writers TJ O’Grady Peyton (Wave) and Liz Quinn (The Date), Director/Cinematographers Rua Meegan & Trevor Whelan (both Bardalo II: A Life of Waste); directors Mia Mullarkey (Mother & Baby), Louise Bagnall (Late Afternoon); and producer Sharon Cronin (Acorn).

Special Events, Shorts and the Surprise Film
One of the most popular and revered slots in the programme, the identity of the Just Eat Surprise Film is a tightly-guarded secret known only to the Festival Director but it always rewards the bold and the brave. The festival has expanded its ADIFF Shorts selections to four programmes of the best short films from Ireland and around the world, featuring both established talent and the next generation of film-makers cutting their teeth. The meeting point between audiences, critics, talent and industry that the festival provides extends far beyond the cinema screen in the ADIFF Special Events. This year’s events will include a Writers’ Masterclass with Laurence Coriat and an Audiences Panel with Ben Luxford, Head of UK Audiences at the British Film Institute. After the success of last year’s exhibition capturing Irish talent, ADIFF will present the second exhibition by Hugh O’Conor featuring intimate portraits of his colleagues in the Irish film industry.

Check out the new ADIFF Podcast at http://bit.ly/2DzwFt3

So, here’s the full ADIFF 2018 schedule, notably lacking any shows in the Savoy; with the Odeon Point and Cineworld 17 stepping into the vacuum left by Savoy 1’s dismemberment – of which more soon.

Wednesday 21st February
21.00 Black 47   Cineworld 17
Opening Gala

Thursday 22nd February
Fantastic Flix -11.00 My Neighbour Totoro   Lighthouse 1
14.00 Yasuni Man   Lighthouse 3
18.00 First Reformed  Cineworld 9 
Paul Schrader in attendance
18.00 Our Time Will Come   Lighthouse 3
18.30 Death of the President   Lighthouse 1
20.00 The Breadwinner   Cineworld 17
Featuring Q&A with Nora Twomey
20.30 Somewhere Beyond The Mist   Lighthouse 3
20.45 Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House   Cineworld 9

Friday 23rd February
14.00 Pickpocket   Lighthouse 1
Introduction by Paul Schrader
16.00 Performance   Lighthouse 1
Introduction by Paul Schrader
16.00 The White Girl   Lighthouse 3
18.15 Beast   Cineworld 9
18.15 Never Steady, Never Still   Lighthouse 1
In attendance: Kathleen Hepburn
18.30 I’ve Got the Blues   Lighthouse 3
In attendance: Angie Chen
20.45 In the Fade   Lighthouse 1
21.00 Paradox   Lighthouse 3
22.45 Revenge   Lighthouse 1

Saturday 24th February
09.00 Immersive Stories Conference   Round Room, Mansion House
11.00 Dawson City: Frozen Time   Lighthouse 1
12.00 Film Festivals Programmers Speed Dating & Networking Session   Lighthouse Bar
14.00 ADIFF Shorts 1   Lighthouse 3
14.00 An Autumn Afternoon   Lighthouse 1
Introduction by Paul Schrader
16.15 Sweet Country   Lighthouse 1
16.30 That Summer   Lighthouse 3
16.30 The Divine Order   Cineworld 9
18.00 Immersive Stories Exhibition   Round Room, Mansion House
18.15 The Line   Lighthouse 3
18.30 The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid   Lighthouse 1
Film-maker in attendance
18.45 The Guardians   Cineworld 9
20.00 Immersive Stories Exhibition   Round Room, Mansion House
20.00 The Ballad of Lefty Brown Cineworld 17
In attendance: Bill Pullman
20.30 The Ciambra   Lighthouse 3
20.30 Tueurs / Above the Law   Lighthouse 1
In attendance: François Troukens, Jean-François Hensgens
20.50 Write When You Get Work   Cineworld 9
Stacy Cochran in attendance

Sunday 25th February
09.00 Immersive Stories Conference   Round Room, Mansion House
11.00 Filmworker   Lighthouse 1
13.00 ADIFF Shorts 2   Lighthouse 1
14.00 Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle   Lighthouse 3
14.00 The Bookshop   Cineworld 9
15.30 What Will People Say   Lighthouse 1
16.15 Wonderful Losers: A Different World   Lighthouse 3
Film-maker in attendance
18.00 Immersive Stories Exhibition   Round Room, Mansion House
18.00 Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts   Cineworld 9
18.00 Thirst Street   Lighthouse 3
In attendance: Nathan Silver
18.30 Behind the Door   Lighthouse 1
Musical accompaniment: Stephen Horne
20.00 Immersive Stories Exhibition   Round Room, Mansion House
20.10 The Workshop   Lighthouse 2
20.15 The Cured   Lighthouse 1
David Freyne in attendance

Monday 26th February
13.30 The Big Parade   IFI
17.00 Casting   Pavilion Theatre
18.10 Madame   Cineworld 9
18.15 Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts   Lighthouse 3
18.15 The Rider   Lighthouse 1
18.30 The Science of Ghosts   IFI
Film-maker in attendance
20.00 The Divine Order   Pavilion Theatre
20.30 ADIFF Shorts 3   Lighthouse 3
20.30 Tower: A Bright Day   Cineworld 9
20.30 You Were Never Really Here   Lighthouse 1
In attendance: Lynne Ramsay

Tuesday 27th February
13.30 Dinner At Eight   IFI
18.10 The Summit   Lighthouse 1
18.15 My Generation   Cineworld 9
18.30 Pre-Crime   Lighthouse 3
In attendance: Matthias Heeder
18.30 Phantom Islands   IFI
Film-maker in attendance
20.30 Good Favour   Lighthouse 1
Filmmaker in attendance
20.45 Israfil   Lighthouse 3

Wednesday 28th February
13.30 Grand Hotel   IFI
16.00 ADIFF Shorts 4   Lighthouse 2
Featuring ADIFF Awards presentation
17.50 Twilight   Lighthouse 2
In attendance: Pat Collins
Fantastic Flix – 18.15 Lean On Pete   Cineworld 9
18.30 Custody   Lighthouse 1
In attendance: Xavier Legrand
18.30 Isle of Dogs   Cineworld 17
18.45 While You Live, Shine   Lighthouse 2
In attendance: Paul Duane
20.30 Red Sparrow   Cineworld 17
20.45 Muse   Lighthouse 1
20.45 Zama   Lighthouse 3
20.45 Thoroughbreds   Cineworld 9

Thursday 1st March
French Producer’s Summit   The Digital Hub
10.00 Careers Day   IFI
Fantastic Flix – 10.00 Cloudboy   Omniplex Rathmines
Fantastic Flix – 13.00 At Eye Level   Movies@Dundrum
16.00 Catch the Wind   Lighthouse 1
18.10 Wonderstruck   Cineworld 9
Film-maker in attendance
18.15 Disobedience   Lighthouse 1
18.15 The Image You Missed   Lighthouse 2
In attendance: Donal Foreman
20.30 Ana, Mon Amour   Lighthouse 3
20.30 Foxtrot   Lighthouse 1
20.45 Apparition / L’Apparition   Cineworld 9

Friday 2nd March
Fantastic Flix – 10.00 Vampirina   Lighthouse 3
Film-maker in attendance
Fantastic Flix – 11.00 Rum 213    Omniplex Rathmines
In attendance: Wilma Lundgren
Fantastic Flix – 11.30 Cloudboy   Lighthouse 3
Fantastic Flix – 12.30 Liyana   Movies@Dundrum
13.30 An American in Paris   IFI
14.00 Writers’ Workshop Laurence Coriat   Brooks Hotel Cinema
18.10 Damo & Ivor: The Movie   Cineworld 17
Film-maker in attendance
In attendance: Rob Burke, Ronan Burke & Cast
18.10 The Other Side of Everything   Lighthouse 3
18.15 The Camino Voyage   IFI
In attendance: Dónal Ó Céilleachair
18.15 Hannah   Light House 1
20.30 Have a Nice Day   Lighthouse 3
20.30 The Third Murder   Cineworld 9
20.45 Kissing Candice   Lighthouse 1
In attendance: Aoife McArdle

Saturday 3rd March
Fantastic Flix -11.00 Fantastic Flix Shorts Omniplex   Rathmines / Lighthouse 3
Fantastic Flix -11.00 Mary and the Witch’s Flower   Lighthouse 1
12.00 Judicial Review: Law on Film
13.15 So Help Me God   Lighthouse 1
In attendance: Yves Hinant, Jean Libon
13.50 Casting   Lighthouse 3
14.00 Catalyst Case Study – Kissing Candice   Bow St Academy
15.45 The Meeting   Lighthouse 1
16.00 Sea Sorrow   Cineworld 17
In attendance: Vanessa Redgrave and Carlo Nero

16.00 How to Talk to Girls At Parties   Lighthouse 3
Sandy Powell in attendance
18.10 Sicilian Ghost Story   Cineworld 9
18.15 A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot   Lighthouse 1
In attendance: Sinéad O’Shea
18.30 Journeyman   Lighthouse 2
Film-maker in attendance
20.30 The Delinquent Season   Lighthouse 1
Mark O’Rowe, Cillian Murphy, and Eva Birthistle in attendance
20.45 A Prayer Before Dawn   Cineworld 9

Sunday 4th March
Fantastic Flix -11.00 The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales   Light House 1
In attendance: Patrick Imbert
12.00 Edie   Light House 3
12.00 Vanessa Redgrave Volta Presentation   The Gate
13.30 Racer and the Jailbird   Cineworld 9
14.00 The Italian Straw Hat (The Horse Ate the Hat)   Light House 1
Musical accompaniment: Günter A. Buchwald, Matthew Jacobson, Nick Roth, Derek Whyte
16.10 My Friend Dahmer   Cineworld 9
16.15 A Gentle Creature   Light House 1
17.00 Just Eat Surprise Film   Odeon Point
Featuring special presentation
19.00 Under the Tree   Light House 1
20.00 C’est La Vie   Cineworld 17
Closing Gala

Exhibitions:
Wednesday 21st February – Sunday 4th March
Celebrating Irish Talent Exhibition   Powerscourt Town Centre

Friday 2nd March – Saturday 31st March
Cedric Gibbons Exhibition   NCAD Galway

Wednesday 21st February – Sunday 4th March
Exhibition: Brown Bag Films Behind the Scenes   Lighthouse

Wednesday 21st February – Sunday 4th March
NCAD Exhibition   Lighthouse

September 13, 2017

IFI Open Day 2017

The IFI is holding its annual Open Day on Saturday September 16th with a line-up of free movies running from 1pm to 11pm. As well as free movies, the customary barbecue in the courtyard and special discount on annual IFI membership, there are a number of tours and a jazz brunch in the cafe bar.

 

In addition to the one preview, handful of old favourites, and several sheer oddities, there are chances to lift the curtain and see the wizard; with talks from the IFI Archive staff and tours of the Projection Booth. The ‘Ask an Archivist’ desk in the foyer will give visitors the opportunity to learn about different film stocks, preservation, restoration, digitisation, and even view and handle film. But projection tours to go behind the little window of flickering light, and check out the busy working of the specialised department; handling anything from digital, to 16mm and 35mm, up to 70mm – the IFI being the only cinema in the country that can run 70mm reels; are sadly sold out. As always IFI Membership will be available at a discounted rate for the Open Day and there’s a BBQ on the terrace from 16.00 onwards. And this year Air France are running a competition for a pair of return flights to Paris so that one might finally fulfil that nagging desire to run thru the Louvre as if in a nouvelle vague picture.

But what are the free movies? Well, here is a guide to the 12 films being shown in Temple Bar.

Film 1

The Mighty Ducks (13.00)
It’s 25 years since the IFI opened its door in Temple Bar, and there is one notable film also turning 25 this year that has been much discussed this summer. But enough about Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me… Emilio Estevez is Gordon Bombay, a cut-throat lawyer sentenced to community service after a DUI, who coaches an unruly youth ice-hockey team with ruthlessness to earn redemption.

The Big Sleep (13.15)
A high water-mark of film noir, The Big Sleep was adapted by William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett from the first of Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled novels about PI, and all-round shop-soiled Galahad, Philip Marlowe. The great Howard Hawks directs Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in a murky tangle of shady LA characters, innuendo laden dialogue, literate zingers, and baffling plotting. Just don’t ask who killed the chauffeur.

Speedy (13.30)
Harold Lloyd’s final silent film from 1928 sees his customary ‘glasses’ character this time appearing as a baseball-obsessed New Yorker determined to save the city’s last horse-drawn streetcar, just as another expression of a fine, noble, and disinterested nature, and also to impress the girl whose grandfather owns it. 86 minutes of rapid-fire sight gags and elaborate comedy set-ups ensue, and a cameo from Babe Ruth to boot.

Film 2

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (15.10)

Robert Wise, director of The Sound of Music, was the unlikely figure picked to lead the crew of the starship Enterprise into the new frontier of cinema. 132 minutes, a regrettable portion of which is lovingly sustained shots of the post-Star Wars VFX accompanied by Jerry Goldsmith’s new Trek theme, sees Kirk, Spock, Bones, et al investigate a mysterious alien entity posing a threat.

Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (15.30)
Steve Martin continued his fruitful collaboration with director Carl Reiner after The Jerk with this homage to 1940s film noir. While Woody Allen was busy inserting Len Zelig into world events, Reiner and Martin wrote a zany plot and built a farcical amount of sets in order to have Martin interact with old footage of Humphrey Bogart, Veronica Lake, Alan Ladd, and many more.

Intermission (15.40)
Cillian Murphy woos Kelly MacDonald, Colin Farrell is obsessed with woks, bus-driver Brían F. O’Byrne is aggrieved at a kid, David Wilmot is being unnerved by Deirdre O’Kane’s lust, and vainglorious Garda Colm Meaney is being filmed by documentarians. The blackly comic intersections of Mark O’Rowe’s screenplay no longer seem as impressive as they initially did back in 2003 when everyone was talking about brown sauce in tea.

MILLER’S CROSSING, Albert Finney, Gabriel Byrne, 1990. TM and Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All Rights Reserved.

Film 3

Sorcerer (17.30)
William Friedkin decided, for reasons passing understanding, to use his post-French Connection and Exorcist clout to remake Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1953 suspense classic The Wages of Fear. Roy Scheider stars in a tale of men driving trucks with highly unstable nitroglycerine over rickety bridges on a mission to extinguish an oil well blaze. This is remembered now for Easy Riders, Raging Bulls’ account of its disastrous production and reception.

Miller’s Crossing (18.00)
The Coen Brothers stepped up their ambitions from indie noir and screwball comedy with this expansive Prohibition-era gangster film. Gabriel Byrne is right-hand man to Albert Finney’s mob boss. When Byrne is banished, over John Turturro’s bookie and Marcia Gay Harden’s moll, it begins a deadly game of cat and mouse between rival gangs; featuring much double-crossing, hard-boiled badinage, and a spectacularly OTT use of ‘Danny Boy’.

Delicatessen (18.10)
Amelie creator Jean-Pierre Jeunet and his one-time directing partner Marc Caro’s 1991 debut is a queasily slapstick spin on Sweeney Todd. Clapet is a landlord in an apartment building in post-apocalyptic France, who controls his tenants’ food supply via his butcher’s shop; prime cuts from the men he hires. Louison (Dominique Pinon) fills the regular vacancy, but his love for Clapet’s daughter complicates matters in this queasy comedy.

Film 4

Weirdos (20.00)

In 1976 Nova Scotia fifteen-year-old Kit and his girlfriend Alice run away from home in order to reunite with his estranged mother (Molly Parker), while the USA bombastically celebrates its bicentennial. Accompanied by Kit’s imaginary version of Andy Warhol, the two undertake a road trip during which they confront the difficulties they face in their teenage romance. Quirky and comedic, Bruce McDonald’s film features beautifully photographed Canadian landscapes.

??? (20.20)

The audience choice is yet to be announced but voting for the shortlist of 10 drawn up by IFI staff has closed. Here’s hoping for Hunt for the Wilderpeople! Although as that screened in preview at last year’s Open Day having it again as a returning favourite might be pushing it. Past winners include SubmarineGood Vibrations, Short Term 12, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

The Cohens and Kellys (20.30)

A genuine oddity is a silent movie in prime time on Open Day… Accordionist Dermot Dunne and saxophonist Nick Roth, Artistic Director of the Yurodny Ensemble, will provide a live musical accompaniment, drawing heavily on Irish and Jewish folk music. The 1926 film is an ethnic comedy of the broadest of stock characters in 1920s NYC: Irish cop, Jewish storekeeper, cheerful Irish wife, Jewish mother.

 

So, those are the films, but that’s only planning’s first step… Sadly after two years of running five sets of films; which saw movies begin near 11pm and end near 1am; things are back to the traditional four in this 25th anniversary year. Trying to do four films was always an endurance marathon, but to get into five films was surely beyond mere mortals, and yet undoubtedly somebody did try in those two years… But even to do four movies one must sort out strategy, for two sets of reasons.

One can, obviously, only watch one of the three films running, but the film chosen from each set determines what films are available in subsequent sets. Choose The Big Sleep from the first set of films, and it becomes damn near impossible to see Star Trek: The Motion Picture from the second set of films. To make a quick-change from Star Trek: The Motion Picture to Sorcerer involves having to leave one screen and join a queue for another screen, with neither film starting on time, especially as some introductory speaker always overdoes curating their favourite film. The unexpected can derail well-laid plans as some films will be unexpectedly in demand whilst others unexpectedly languish, and it is impossible to predict which. Might one casually pick up a ticket for Miller’s Crossing a minute before it starts as Talking Movies’ occasional guest writer Elliot Harris once memorably did for The Purple Rose of Cairo? And how can popularity be predicted in the absence of announced screens? After all amongst past audience choice winners Good Vibrations and Short Term 12 did not make Screen 1, yet Submarine did. One needs a good mental map of run-times and queue-times for improvised plans.

And then there’s the second, newer reason to sort strategy if attempting multiple films. Tickets were allocated, 4 per person, first come first served, at 11am; which saw a queue forming from 9.30am, snaking to Dame Street. The days of that Open Day morning buzz are gone. For the second year in a row queues will form inside the IFI, a desk for each movie, an hour before screenings –2 tickets per person. Multiple movie devotees must work together, because they’d have to not be watching a movie in order to queue for tickets for the next movie; reducing them to a mere 2 movies! Expect the queue to form 30 minutes before tickets will be disbursed. Don’t expect pseudo-economists trading off queuing during films they don’t mind missing in order to get extra tickets for a film they do want to see, in order to get someone to queue for them for a later film they want to see.

August 12, 2017

Crestfall

Druid returns to the Abbey for the second time this summer, with a revival of Mark O’Rowe’s controversial 2003 monologue play on the Peacock stage.

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Crestfall sees three actresses deliver three monologues, which overlap in places, deepening our understanding of the various characters and viewing events from multiple and thus revelatory perspectives. Olive Day (Kate Stanley Brennan) is a nymphomaniac as a result of childhood sexual abuse. She has a particular dislike for Alison Ellis (Siobhan Cullen) who she thinks sanctimonious, and a situational dislike for drug-addicted prostitute Tilly McQuarrie (Amy McElhatton); who calls her a whore for her sexual promiscuity after a less than compassionate response to Tilly’s Jonesing. These three women’s lives collide in violent (,very violent, really you won’t believe how violent it is,) ways on a day of sunshine and sudden rainstorms. A cuckolded husband reaches his breaking point, a one-eyed man with a three-eyed dog does unspeakable things, and a horse is punished for kicking a child in the head.

O’Rowe has done a second tinkering with the text after a 2011 rewrite. The infamous bit with the dog that provoked walkouts at the Gate in 2003 is gone, but the crudity of Olive’s monologue is still remarkable. Quite what attracted director Annabelle Comyn to this script is unclear; as the rhyming couplets quickly become limiting rather than a euphoric torrent of language. This is very far from Tom Vaughan-Lawlor’s tour-de-force playing both roles in Howie the Rookie in 2015. That physicality is purposefully absent from this play, where the vigour is supposedly in the language, but it lacks the exuberance that O’Rowe is capable of and often it just seems vulgar for the sake of vulgarity; a judgement I was surprised to hear delivered to me as I left the theatre but which on reflection I have to endorse.

Aedin Cosgrove has designed a crimson playing space that resembles a corrugated container, in which three women prowl in gowns that look like a cross between psychiatric hospital garb and prison uniforms. Stanley Brennan gives a swaggering performance, but the memory lingers on Cullen as the most normal of the trio, delivering her lines with maternal concern and disgust for the squalor surrounding her that almost seems to stand-in for the audience. If Crestfall’s 75 minutes were punctuated by an interval, would the obviously restless members of my audience have melted away?… As details of the various monologues accumulate you can start to hear the clicks of O’Rowe’s larger plot fitting together, but that is not the most rewarding of theatrical experiences. If I want accumulating details to fit together into a suddenly comprehensible whole I usually read Kathy Reichs.

There’s a certain pleasure to be had in the mechanics of the storytelling, but it lacks the vim O’Rowe simultaneously brought to his similarly gradually interweaving 2003 Intermission screenplay.

2.5/5

Crestfall continues its run at the Peacock until the 12th of August.

February 18, 2016

Juno and the Paycock

The Gate is first out of the traps in the curious case of the duelling Sean O’Casey productions to mark the 1916 centenary, as his 1924 classic is here directed by Crestfall playwright Mark O’Rowe.

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Declan Conlon and Marty Rea are a formidable pairing as O’Casey’s inimitable self-deluding male comedy double-act. Conlon is the self-proclaimed nautical veteran ‘Captain’ Boyle, a work-shy layabout who once crewed a boat to Liverpool and now infuriates his long-suffering wife Juno (Derbhle Crotty) by continually carousing with ne’er-do-well neighbour Joxer (Rea) and pleading medically mysterious pains in his legs whenever the prospect of a job appears. Juno’s uphill battle to maintain the family’s dignity takes place in a starkly decaying gray tenement room, with a staircase visible whenever the front door is left open. O’Rowe exploits this bleak space with increasingly dim lighting as the Boyle family is torn asunder by its own complexes of self-delusion, social climbing, and self-destructiveness; a matrix which O’Casey uses to skewer middle-class mores, the Catholic Church, Civil War Republicans, and the Trade Union movement.

It’s startling that in just 14 years Conlon has reached the age where people would think of him not for Hotspur but for Henry IV or Falstaff. He provides a Paycock long on voluble self-pity and contempt, but short on self-awareness and compassion. Conlon is terrific at waspish contempt, but his performance suffers by O’Rowe’s directorial choices. O’Rowe, possibly reacting to Howard Davies’ 2011 Abbey production of Juno, reins in the slapstick. Davies conjured business to emphasise O’Casey’s vaudeville clowning, but Ciaran Hinds’ self-deluding bombast made his later self-righteous fury truly scary. O’Rowe’s stricter fidelity to the text narrows Conlon’s range. And so Rea’s performance stays in the memory longer. He plays Joxer with an impish quality (as if he had flitted in from a Shakespearean fantasy to laugh at mortals), shrinking into as little space as possible, legs always coiled around each other, darting in and out of windows and across the stage startlingly quickly, and extending his final refrain of ‘A Daaaarlin book’ into an almost serpentine hiss.

Paul Wills’ austere set design tracks O’Rowe’s approach, a drab room with sparse and meagre furnishings in comparison to Bob Crowley’s sprawling 2011 Abbey set, whose vivid crumbling was akin to Tyler’s brownstone in Fight Club. In this setting Crotty’s turn as Juno is characterised by exhaustion above exasperation, not the Fassbendering turn one might have anticipated; instead Ingrid Craigie’s Maisie Madigan steals scenes. Juno’s valedictory ‘It’ll what have what’s far better, it’ll have two mothers’ is hollowed by Crotty’s hapless resignation towards crippled Republican son Johnny (Fionn Walton) and synchronicity with Union daughter Mary (Caoimhe O’Malley). O’Malley elevates Mary from cipher, layering cruelty towards her ex-boyfriend (Peter Coonan) with an initial startled adherence to and a later dogged rebellion against sexual morality that seems self-destructive compulsion. Given Juno’s self-pitying matrimonial rebukes that are both loudly performed and ineffectual O’Rowe hints at matrilineal failings that bode ill for Mary’s child.

The 2011 Abbey co-production with Southbank’s National Theatre remains the recent gold standard, but O’Rowe’s more subdued take features sufficient fresh unexpected insights to render it an interesting companion piece to Davies’ exuberant interpretation.

3.5/5

Juno and the Paycock continues its run at the Gate Theatre until the 16th of April.

 

November 10, 2015

An Alternative Abbey 2016 Programme

I’d been waiting for the Abbey’s new season, and was disappointed by it. I didn’t think much of their commission choices, and felt their other selections betrayed a peculiarly apologetic and almost self-loathing attitude towards a celebration of our independence. So I thought about what I might have programmed instead…

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Here are the essentials of the Abbey’s 2016 programme to September:

 

*Cyprus Avenue by David Ireland

(dir: Vicky Featherstone)

The Plough and the Stars by Sean O’Casey

(dir: Sean Holmes)

*New Middle East by Mutaz Abu Saleh

(dir: Bashar Murkus)

*Tina’s Idea of Fun by Sean P Summers

(dir: Gerry Stembridge)

Othello by William Shakespeare

(dir: Joe Dowling)

*Town is Dead by Philip McMahon & Ray Scannell

(dir: TBC)

The Wake by Tom Murphy

(dir: Annabelle Comyn)

Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme by Frank McGuinness

(dir: Jeremy Herrin)

 

Here are the essentials of my alternative Abbey 2016 programme:

 

*Commissioned Work by Mark O’Rowe

(dir: Mark O’Rowe)

John Bull’s Other Island by George Bernard Shaw

(dir: Roisin McBrinn)

*Not I by Samuel Beckett, Play by Samuel Beckett, On Baile’s Strand by WB Yeats, Riders to the Sea by JM Synge

(dir: Annie Ryan)

*Delirium by Enda Walsh

(dir: Conall Morrison)

Making History by Brian Friel

(dir: Patrick Mason)

*The Effect by Lucy Prebble

(dir: Annabelle Comyn)

Commissioned Work by Marina Carr

(dir: Selina Cartmell)

The Wake by Tom Murphy

(dir: Annabelle Comyn)

 

*Plays marked with an asterisk are on the Peacock stage.

This alternative programme is of course a fantasy, because it takes no account of the availability of directors and playwrights, but it does utilise people who have done fine work at the Abbey in recent years. It commissions new plays from two of our finest playwrights, Mark O’Rowe and Marina Carr, and gives Enda Walsh’s exuberant Dostoevsky adaptation from 2008 the chance of a subtler interpretation. The Shavian elephant in the room is finally tackled, and what better time for Shaw’s exuberant interrogation of our capacity for self-government? The late Brian Friel is honoured with a timely production of his exploration of exile and myth-making in Irish history, while Tom Murphy’s more recent dissection of exile and return ends the summer season. The Abbey’s fullest spectrum is utilised: Revival classics are paired with two of Beckett’s trickiest works, and Comyn returns to her beginnings in directing a contemporary English play.

The Abbey perhaps stands at an odd angle to 1916. It is after all a national theatre older than its politically constituted nation, led in its early days by Anglo-Irish writers with a gift for enraging their Irish audience, and its seminal engagement with the decade of revolution was by a writer whose corrosive scepticism spared no institution. The Plough and the Stars is the obvious choice for marking the Rising, perhaps too obvious a choice. It has been staged too frequently to too little effect in the last decade to be wheeled out once again to throw cold water over Pearse’s dream. Not least when Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme is deliberately programmed against it, as if we’re apologising to Unionists for rebelling when we could have been nobly dying for the British Empire instead. As for Othello, one quote deployed by Haughey does not a state of the nation play make. Serious engagement with Shakespeare’s quatercentenary would be a post-colonial take on The Tempest.

1916 is to be celebrated like 1776 or 1789, not apologised for, agonised over, or disparaged. The only way to discuss a programme of plays is to parse it qualitatively play by play, because that’s how people choose to go to the theatre: play by play, depending on their particular artistic cost-benefit analysis of the actors, the playwright, the director, and the subject matter. I’ve felt compelled in disliking so many of the Abbey’s individual picks to present an alternative programme of plays. Consonant with my banishing O’Casey I say there’s little use tearing down everything and building up nothing.

July 16, 2015

A Month in the Country

Ethan McSweeny directs Brian Friel’s version of Ivan Turgenev’s classic comedy-drama concerning the complicated romantic entanglements on a 19th Century Russian estate in high summer.

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Natalya (Aislin McGuckin) is married to the much older Arkady (Nick Dunning), a man too distracted with improvements to his estate to notice that his permanent houseguest and best friend Michel (Simon O’Gorman) is plainly in love with Natalya. Other residents of the Arkady house include bombastic German Herr Schaff (Peter Gaynor), long-suffering Lizaveta (Ingrid Craigie), Arkady’s formidable mother Anna (Barbara Brennan), new tutor Aleksey (Dominic Thorburn), and Natalya’s teenage ward Vera (Caoimhe O’Malley). Local doctor Shpigelsky (Mark O’Regan) doesn’t actually live there, but he might as well given that he spends as much time there as the eternally distracted bickering servants Matvey (Dermot Magennis) and Katya (Clare Monnelly). But when Vera falls in love with Aleksey and Natalya becomes madly infatuated with him, and blind to the counsel of Michel, the stage is set for betrayal, heartbreak, and reproach.

ADP Briggs has convincingly argued that the parallels in characters and relationships between A Month in the Country and Uncle Vanya are too close to be coincidental; Chekhov as we know him is unthinkable without Turgenev’s exemplar. Certainly a scene of total chaos in the final act as several characters wander into the drawing room to resolve several sub-plots anticipates Chekhov’s fondness for rattling several scenes through one set. Friel’s 1992 version gives the servants Northern Irish leanings against an RP aristocracy, and Bolshintsov (Pat McGrath) is amusingly rendered as a 1950s Irish bachelor farmer. An interesting echo is a devastated Arkady’s lament that he needed a measure of discretion from Natalya and Michel in order to successfully not know what he does know, which seems to speak to Judith’s speech in Aristocrats on how her circumscribed life is possible to endure so long as its limits are not hammered home. Oddly enough there are anticipations of another playwright Friel has translated, Ibsen, in Natalya’s manipulations and impulsive scheming. It’s as if Judge Brack had never cornered Hedda Gabler and she continued to relieve her boredom by insulting people, thwarting romances, and impulsively manipulating people.

Aislin McGuckin who had some imperious moments in Heartbreak House at the Abbey last summer rises to the challenge of such a figure, and alternates knowing vocal sultriness, with epic self-pity, blind fury, and vulnerable self-awareness. Natalya’s proto-Chekhovian soliloquies baffled 1850 audiences, but their psychological quality is very modern; although they can seem repetitious, especially if you saw Mark O’Rowe’s lean version of Ibsen in April. O’Gorman’s Michel is a study in defeat, while Dunning’s Arkady comes into his own after the interval as a comic character in his obliviousness who is tragic in that he needs to be oblivious to function. O’Malley slightly overdoes the girlishness of Vera, before maturing under the machinations of Natalya, while O’Regan hoovers up good lines as punning peasant made good Shpigelsky. Gaynor meanwhile lets rip in support. The expected silliness he suppressed in his Hedda Gabler character in April appears here in spades.

Francis O’Connor’s clever set and Peter O’Brien elegant costumes are the perfect visual palette for Turgenev’s tale of misplaced affections and quiet acceptances in a production of bittersweet comedy.

3/5

A Month in the Country continues its run at the Gate until August 22nd.

May 14, 2015

Hedda Gabler on HeadStuff

Hedda Gabler finishes its run in the Abbey on Saturday night, so if you’re still undecided about catching Annabelle Comyn’s production here’s a teaser for my review for HeadStuff.org.

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Hedda has just returned from honeymooning with her dull academic husband Tesman (Peter Gaynor). As they settle into a new house she idly insults Tesman’s devoted Aunt Julle (Jane Brennan), threatens to fire his long-suffering maid Berte (Deirdre Molloy), and takes a pot-shot at former lover Judge Brack (Declan Conlon). Brack, however, takes bullets whistling past his ears in stride, he knows he is the only person to whom Hedda can confide her utter boredom with bourgeois life, and her love of manipulating people for her amusement. And then former schoolmate Thea Elvsted (Kate Stanley Brennan) arrives, seeking help in tracking down another of Hedda’s former lovers, the once dissolute but now reformed Ejlert Lovborg (Keith McErlean). When Brack reveals that the now sober Lovborg is Tesman’s only rival for a professorship the scene is set for Hedda’s greatest chicanery.

Read the full review of how Mark O’Rowe produces a lean version of Henrik Ibsen’s text by clicking the link below:

http://www.headstuff.org/2015/05/hedda-gabler-review/

April 16, 2015

Hedda Gabler

Director Annabelle Comyn reunites with her The Talk of the Town leading lady Catherine Walker for Mark O’Rowe’s new version of Henrik Ibsen’s 1891 classic.

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Hedda Gabler (Walker) returns from a six-month honeymoon with husband Jorge Tesman (Peter Gaynor), who has tried her patience with research trips to libraries. But at least in libraries she didn’t have to endure Tesman’s beloved Aunt Julle (Jane Brennan) or maid Berte (Deirdre Molloy). Life in this new house looks set fair to be awful, apart from the visits of her former lover Judge Brack (Declan Conlon), and then the forecast gets even stormier. Former schoolmate Thea Elvsted (Kate Stanley Brennan), who Hedda despised, arrives desperately seeking Ejlert Lovborg (Keith McErlean). Hedda is initially intrigued, Lovborg being a lover she’d once threatened to shoot, but then quickly appalled when Brack reveals Lovborg’s new-found sobriety has enabled him publish a book so acclaimed he may pip Tesman to the professorship he was promised, and so ruin Hedda’s prospect of prosperity.

O’Rowe’s version brings a Mametian sensibility to bear on Ibsen’s dialogue, which suddenly erupts in overlapping, interruptions, and back-tracking. He also dials down the black comedy that Brian Friel memorably mined from the script. O’Rowe’s Hedda Gabler remains darkly humorous, but not as riotously funny as Anna Mackmin’s production of the Friel version I saw in the Old Vic in 2012. Half the fun of seeing the classics is seeing how different elements are highlighted by different productions. Peter Gayor is very impressive as Tesman. Whereas Adrian Scarborough rendered Tesman a joyous figure of fun, childlike in his enthusiasms and disappointments, Gaynor makes Tesman comically oblivious to Hedda’s pregnancy, but a serious academic whose conscience-stricken anger is sincere and fiery. Darrell D’Silva Fassbendered as a thoroughly roguish Brack, whereas Conlon renders him as a droll, urbane, and, eventually, inert presence.

The performances follow the version: where Daniel Lapaine emphasised the depraved menace of Lovborg, McErlean is a chastened, sensitive presence as the academic in search of redemption. Sheridan Smith brought her comedy chops to bear on the part, but Walker’s Hedda is a more tragic figure. O’Rowe’s provocative addition that everything she touches ends up “grotesque, vulgar, and f****** farcical” underscores her exhaustion at the bourgeois world she’s trapped in despite her best machinations. Comyn’s regular set designer Paul O’Mahony eschews his usual impressively realised sets and places the furniture of a drawing room centre-stage, with free-standing doors delineating where an imaginary garden and hallway exist on either side. It’s reminiscent of the nightmare of an open-plan house in the finale of Fincher’s Dragon Tattoo movie, and makes lighting designer Chahine Yavroyan’s ‘sun’ streaming in from the garden particularly striking.

The backdrop is a giant video screen on which Hugh O’Connor’s images and sounds, which fatally reminded me of U2’s ZOO TV, appear during scene changes. Perhaps it’s the white noise inside the head of Hedda? Who knows? Par the poster where Hedda sits on a chair under a plastic cover, no matter how well we can see Hedda, we can never see her clearly. O’Rowe’s version hammers home that Hedda is not as brilliant a manipulator as she thinks: she has been trapped in this house by an idle remark, just as an impulsive gesture with Lovborg will trap her. And the gesture which she thinks secures her position as a professor’s wife backfires spectacularly as this production makes it plain that Thea is the perfect wife for an academic, and her seriousness is the perfect match for Tesman.

Annabelle Comyn draws impressive performances from her cast as always, but she also zips the action along as Hedda is brought low by her own headstrong nature; rendered on farce and tragedy’s uneasy borderline.

4/5

Hedda Gabler continues its run at the Abbey until May 16h.

October 6, 2014

Our Few and Evil Days

Ciaran Hinds and Sinead Cusack, so successful in Juno and the Paycock back in 2011, reunite as a more contemporary but equally troubled married couple; whose headstrong daughter brings home an equally superficially attractive paramour.

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Michael (Hinds) and Margaret (Cusack) are a loving couple in a Dublin suburb who no longer share a bedroom. The wordless opening of both acts sees Michael come downstairs to wake her up, and then put away mattress and pillows and switch the pull-out bed back to a sofa while she dresses upstairs. Yet their obvious devotion to each other is noticed and commented on by unexpected visitor Dennis (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), who has been placed in the awkward position of meeting the parents solo by Adele (Charlie Murphy) running off to help her friend Belinda thru yet another crisis. Dennis inevitably makes a faux pas, about Adele’s absent brother, Jonathan; something teased out, along with Belinda’s crises, when Adele arrives for a very late dinner. But when Adele leaves again Dennis is convinced to stay over by Michael, and so when Dennis gets up for a drink of water he falls over Margaret; and their conversation about Jonathan becomes… disturbing.

Our Few and Evil Days is hard to review without ruining the effect of Mark O’Rowe’s mischievous structure. My lead-in was mischievous in mentioning O’Casey, because this is clearly in the vein of two other playwrights. The interrupting and sharply back and forth dialogue owes a debt to David Mamet, and the stellar cast, once they’ve warmed up to it (almost), embrace its rhythms with gusto. Meanwhile Harold Pinter’s comedy of menace rumbles under the attempts of naively nice guy Dennis to make a good impression. As director O’Rowe is also mischievous, casting Ian-Lloyd Anderson against type as Belinda’s abusive boyfriend Gary, by muting the physical menace he displayed in Major Barbara and instead playing up epic self-pity. This is a solidly middle-class setting courtesy of Paul Wills’ fully functioning set; with stairs behind the glass doors from the sitting room to the hall, a laundry area behind the kitchen, and a working sink (the final pre-Irish Water set design?).

Unfortunately such an impressive deeply layered set necessitates the removal of the first four rows of seats, so row E gets pasted up against the stage; and during Dennis and Margaret’s pivotal scene sitting at the kitchen table you are listening to a table emote because you can’t see Margaret’s face at all… O’Rowe’s play comprises three scenes either side of the interval; but where uncomfortable comedy dominates the first act, Freudian nightmares, shouting matches, and pop-analysis dominate the second. This gives the impression by the end that some characters have merely acted as plot devices to push the most important characters into dramatic screaming matches, and that much of the comedy has been a red herring. This doesn’t really matter though when actors of the calibre of Hinds, Cusack, Murphy and Vaughan-Lawlor are giving it their all. Vaughan-Lawlor clearly relishes playing against ‘Nidge’, Cusack is endearingly earthy, Hinds is sympathetically conflicted, and Murphy impressively alternates between wounded and wounding.

O’Rowe’s script has a fearful symmetry, great comedy, and touches on true darkness, but is perhaps a bit too full of misdirection. It’s possible to see future productions simply fall apart with lesser actors.

4/5

Our Few and Evil Days continues its run at the Abbey until the 25th of October.

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