Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Can Analysis be Worthwhile? Is the Theatre Really Dead?

Tears of a clownRegular penitants at the twenty-first century vale of tears that is the web log of An Spailpín Fánach may have noticed over the years that your chronicler of contemporary Irish life has a little bit of a bee in his bonnet about Dublin. Such friends as are willing to put up with An Spailpín's constant bitching about Dublin sometimes become overwhelmed, and attempt to fight back.

"For God's sake, a Spailpín," they admonish, "Dublin is a great town. Look at all there is to do!"

"Oh, there's a lot to do alright. You can do skag, meths, pills, or even buckfast tonic wine, from what I can see. Very damned popular, I notice."

"Don't be such a smartarse! You know what I mean! There's lots to do in this town."


"Well, there's nothing like a lovely night at the theatre."

If you want to know what nothing like a lovely night at the theatre is like then Dublin is just the spot to find out. An Spailpín Fánach has just this very afternoon spoken with a friend who recently went to see Hinterland, by Sebastian Barry, at the Abbey Theatre, supposedly our "National" Theatre. The poor man is still shook, and that was five days ago.

[Turns out he was worse shook than I thought. The play in question turned out to Homeland by Paul Mercier, and not Hinterland by Sebastian Barry. Of course, the fact your correspondent can't even tell the names apart rather adds to the argument, don't you think?]

An Spailpín Fánach his own self went to see Shining City by Conor McPherson when it was on in the Gate in 2004, and didn't I get the land. They were doing the hard sell on McPherson, because the Irish theatrical establishment was still blushing brightly over not discovering Martin McDonagh when they had the chance, so they were making the most of Conor.

The company was wonderful and the post-show pinting exquisite but my Lord and my God, Shining City itself was boring beyond belief, with a pathetic attempt at a "shock" ending that might be alright for Episode VIII of Flash Gordon and the Cages of Mars but for "writing and acting at its most riveting" (The Times), it was poor enough gruel.

However, I have the program for the upcoming season at the Gaiety right here in in my cave as I type, and I now realise that whoever are running the Gate and the Abbey are as Burbage and Shakespeare compared to this yahoo. I quote John Costigan, Managing Director, Gaiety Theatre, from his introduction to the 2006 Programme:

"The Irish premiere of a hilarious new comedy Dirty Dusting is sure to have audiences in peels [sic] of laughter, with Adele King ('Twink') leading an all-star cast including Joan O'Hara (Fair City) and Eileen Colgan (Tara Road, Angela's Ashes) in this story of three 70-something cleaners facing the axe, who devise a daringly naughty plan to make a little extra cash on the side .... Twink's long-awaited return to the stage is celebrated in style in this uproarious new comedy. Come and see for yourself, [sic] exactly what these three 'girl's [sic] get up to."

Nothing like a good night out at the theatre, indeed.

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