The last theatre review I posted was two years ago. Since, I have been to see a good few plays. I am one of those lucky students who get fantastic reductions at the Everyman Palace theatre in Cork, so I do not hesitate to book a ticket and go to see what’s going on behind the curtain. As a result, I have seen some plays I have liked and some I have liked a bit less… Each time, I am full of good intentions about writing a post about it, but then I’m thinking: “I can’t write about this play without first writing about the one I’ve previously seen”. Thus, I don’t write at all. I know it’s ridiculous, and let’s face it, I will never catch up, so I have decided to break the cycle.
The next play I went to see after Waiting for Godot was One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I had never seen the film, nor read the book, so I did not have that feeling that the play had let me down. I thought it was a good and entertaining show. This play was produced by an American company, the Keegan Theatre, which, I have since learnt, comes back every year on an Irish tour. They seem to be specialised in American classics (as you would expect) and the following year they came back with Of Mice and Men. Now, I have read the book but I found the adaptation quite powerful and I must admit to shedding a tear. This year they brought to stage a play written by Sam Sheppard, Fool for Love, and it was also very good. There is something about seeing the same company playing a few times, as if you get to meet old friends…
Most of the plays produced in the Everyman are Irish; they can be classics, by Samuel Beckett, Brian Friel and John B. Keane for instance, as well as contemporary plays. I think that apart from the three American plays discussed above, the only non-Irish play I saw was The Caretaker by Harold Pinter. I was so much looking forward to it, but I was a bit disappointed. It was kind of slow and, although I enjoyed it while watching it, it has not left an impression on me. I remember it, but only vaguely.
The biggest surprise was At Swim-Two-Birds, an adaptation of Flann O’Brien’s metafictional novel. I was really intrigued about how they would put that on stage and was impressed at how well it work. It was a great show and the actors were fantastic.
The Colleen Bawn, a play by Dion Boucicault and classic of Irish literature, comes as close second. The acting was great and it was enjoyable to see a play I had read take life. It was funny and sad at the same time and the protagonists were true to how they had been written. The play is based on a true story; unfortunately the denouement was not as happy in reality.
The biggest disappointment was Penelope by Enda Walsh. I am sorry to say I did not get his interpretation of The Odyssey. I was quite excited to see a revision of this myth as I very much enjoyed reading The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood and I thought it would be interesting to see another perspective. His focus is on the suitors, just before the return of Odysseus. It has been somewhat modernised and they are in an empty swimming pool eating the last of the food and drinking the last of the alcohol, knowing that these are their last days since they have all had the same dream of Odysseus’s return. It could work, but it did not, not for me anyway. I could not see what Walsh was getting at and there were too many lengths. I have the script a maybe if one day I decide to read it I will get something out of it.
I will not go into the rest of the plays; they were all very Irish-focused and some worked better than other; some were actually really enjoyable, while others where a bit tedious (that Irish theme tends to be overly done sometimes).
Tomorrow, I am going to see another of these Irish classics: Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel. I will report back…