As week two of the Dublin Theatre Festival kicks off, here’s a round up of the shows the team caught over the weekend.
Everyone’s Fine With Virginia Woolf
Presenting itself as a feminist takedown of the Edward Albee classic Who’s Afraid Of… with a particularly queer bent, this non-stop, reference filled, in-jokey version, with a very particular sense of humour, barrelled across the stage of the O’Reilly Theatre. Presented by Elevator Repair Service and written by Kate Scelsa, it’s a rare show in that it allows a viewer to realise in record time if the show is or isn’t going to be their cup of tea.
Starting off at a gathering hosted by Martha and George with the seeming purpose of seducing their guests, it wraps up the whole storyline of the original in record time to launch into multiple tangents of absurdist moments. Like all machine-gun-speed comedy, some jokes and insights stick, others end up littering the floor. Performances across the board are intentionally mannered, if you get the humour you’ll like them, if not, they’ll grate, although Vin Knight’s Tennessee Williams impression (imagine an even more full blown Beverly Leslie from Will And Grace) is hard not to enjoy. Just to really shake things up, in the third act, the play literally goes to hell, with a giant robot and a vampire making appearances.
With a script that’s all commentary and, really, no narrative, it can feel like being stuck beside a stranger at a party who thinks their jokes are great.
There’s a good chance you’ll agree. If you don’t, it’ll be a long party.
The Patient Gloria
In 1964, a woman named Gloria agreed to be interviewed by three different psychologists as part of a training film to help future practitioners. Breaking her trust, the film Three Approaches to Psychotherapy went on to get a television and big screen release, showing her personal story to millions.
This actually happened.
Gina Moxley has adapted that story but tied it in with her own meditations and experiences of the patriarchy. She appears as herself, as well as all three psychologists, accompanied by Liv O’Donoghue as Gloria and Zoe Ní Riordáin as an onstage commentator and musician.
On a shallow note, it’s by far the most visually and acoustically appealing thing seen in the festival yet. It looks and sounds gorgeous. The performances are pretty polished and the whole thing zips along. While it gets humorously outlandish at times (this is the show with the flying penis drone), there’s a real anger pulsing underneath. Whether the anger goes so far in one direction it becomes alienating rather than enlightening seemed to depend on the audience members we spoke to after the show.
Eliza’s Adventures In The Uncanny Valley
The last of the shows we caught so far contained an undeniably great beginning and a totally brilliant ending, but it’s in the uncanny valley between those two moments that this divisive piece will either entice or repel.
Five characters dressed in nondescript grey outfits inhabit what could pass as an oversize hotel room. They talk in flat cadences and don’t express much emotion as they perform what can only be described as minor rituals. It takes a frustrating amount of time for the show to reveal they are artificial intelligences all trying to appear the most human. Until this is revealed, it’s unfortunately a bit of a watch-checker, despite a really lovely performance by Jane McGrath.
With such a deliberate pace and intentionally obtuse narrative, it’s hard to invest in a show that like its characters seems to be all surface no feeling.
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