The Dublin Theatre Festival may being winding down to its last few days, but there’s still a wealth of shows to catch before it finishes up. Here’s a selection of what Team GCN caught this week, starting with a startlingly entertaining troupe of ballerinas.
Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo
Pirouetting proudly onto the stage of the Bord Gais Theatre to a rapturous reception, the drag ballerinas of the all-male troupe, the Trocks, couldn’t have been more warmly received. In a powerful festival with so many hard hitting and challenging works, it was wonderfully charming and refreshing to see a show so full of joy with a desire to entertain.
Taking previously existing famous dance pieces and giving them a humorous new spin, the insanely talented prima ballerinas created tons of laugh-out-loud moments. From a moulting dying swan, to a leading lady terrified she was going to be dropped, to a disinterested chorus member who sat and ate a bag of crisps while the principals pranced wildly, hilarious moments were accompanied by bursts of spontaneous applause which sprang up throughout.
In between all the laughter and humorous set pieces, there were moments which reminded you that the performers were not just comedians but very accomplished and powerful ballerinas. As one audience member told us during the interval, it takes a lot of talent and skill to pretend to dance badly while still achieving all the challenging poses and jumps.
For one truly entertaining evening, the audience were putty in the hands of the talented performers, who revealed they knew just who they were dealing with by performing Riverdance during one of the many curtain calls.
The End Of Eddy
Based on the critically acclaimed novel of the same name by Édouard Louis and adapted for the stage by Pamela Carter for Unicorn Theatre and United Projects, The End of Eddy tells the tale of a young working class queer kid growing up in the disadvantaged French town of Hallencourt. It depicts the many trials and tribulations of growing up gay and different in a rural area that is steeped in addiction, unemployment, violence and overwhelming homophobia.
The titular role is played by two young actors, Kwaku Mills and Alex Austin, who are both immensely watchable and carry us through the, at times, tough reminisces of Eddy’s upbringing with confidence, ease and a lot of heart. They also portray the other key players that orbit Eddy’s universe, his tough father, intense mother etc. and these are pre-recorded and played out on multiple television screens on stage.
This play was crafted with a young adult audience in mind and you can feel it. In parts it’s instructive in ways that feel more TED talk than theatre show, but Stuart Laing’s direction, the simplicity of the key themes and Édouard’s sense of humour about his own story keeps you engaged. The moments of true tenderness come when the show departs from the hard facts of the book itself and give the audience and characters themselves some intimate, healing moments.
Actress Rebecca Root,who was featured in last month’s issue of GCN, (and who, incidentally, was a joy to interview) makes her Irish stage debut in Deirdre Kinehan’s timely Rathmines Road.
Sandra (Karen Ardiff) and Ray (Enda Oates) are looking to sell Sandra’s deceased mother’s home when old friend Dairne (Root) pays a call. Later in the evening, estate agent Linda (Janet Moran) turns up accompanied by her husband, Eddie (Charlie Bonner). Sandra is appalled to discover that Eddie is the man who raped her at a college party 20 years before. Having kept her attack secret for all this time, her terror, rage and frustration spill out over one nightmarish evening.
Kinehan’s show is a necessarily angry piece of writing, the flashes of horror within the naturalistic unfussy dialogue making the darker moments all the more impactful. Performances are strong throughout but special mentions must go to an absolutely stellar Charlie Bonner, who walks the fine line between evil and ignorance whilst still projecting an uneasy charm, and Janet Moran, who works wonders with a character whose fluctuating motivations at times make her seem more like a plot necessity than a human being.
Midway through the show, there’s a moment which changes the eventual course of the play, which we won’t spoil, and wasn’t immediately apparent to some in the audience we spoke to about it later, but it stood out so obviously that it negated a lot of the impact of the narrative that followed. However, all in all, it’s a challenging and engrossing night at the theatre.
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