Galway Arts Festival Review: The Aspirations of Daise Morrow and Flight

By Padraic Killeen

The Aspirations of Daise Morrow - Black Box Theatre

Based on Patrick White’s short story, ‘Down at the Dump’, this Australian production succeeds in channelling into a theatrical form all the vibrancy and pathos of their compatriot’s prose. 

The narrative centres on the funeral of a woman in small-town Australia, a woman whose unfettered attitude to life had left her misunderstood by the more conservative elements within the town, including her uptight sister, Myrtle (sketched brilliantly here by Paul Blackwell).

On the day of the funeral, Myrtle’s daughter Meg (Lucy Lehmann) abandons the cemetery to walk in the neighbouring dump and uncovers the same untamed, chaotic, and sensuous world that had fascinated her aunt.

The production’s “in the round” staging of the show is intimate and evocative, allowing characters to breeze through the audience, much as the late Daise Morrow seems to ghost through the characters’ inner narratives. The set design — featuring real grass — is vivid and punchy.

Meanwhile, the cast are quite brilliant, rendering the mystery and lyricism of White’s writing via a perfect array of movements and gestures.

Final performance tonight

Flight - O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway

Providing an entirely unique theatrical experience, this production from Scottish company Vox Motus finds each audience member being placed into a small booth where they then watch the narrative unfold before them on a revolving diorama featuring miniature figures.

A set of headphones provides us with the narrative for the story as one small lighted panel after another goes by. Each of these panels captures a moving snapshot of the arduous and increasingly sad trek across continents of two young Afghan boys seeking refuge in the UK, the beautifully carved figures within relaying immense drama, despite their small size.

While these visuals — designed by Jamie Harrison — deliver the narrative, the broader theatrical experience itself is delivered via the staging.

The fact that each audience member watches this diorama of passing images alone, isolated in a dark booth, echoes the experience of confinement the two refugee children frequently

experience, often while in transit in the back of lorries. Moreover, this positioning of the audience leaves the viewer feeling locked in and powerless, even while dismayed by the plight of the characters. As such, the show provocatively invites the viewer to reflect on their own freedom and their duty to those left in the dark margins of our world.

Final performance tomorrow

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