The Numbered at Cork Midsummer Festival: 'Impressive production, just as we’ve come to expect'

Des O’Driscoll takes a look at the Cork Midsummer Festival

The Numbered - Fitzgerald’s Park

Spoiler alert: We’re all going to die. For the characters of Elias Canetti’s play — Corcadorca’s offering for Cork Midsummer Festival — they know exactly when that’s going to happen. In fact, their whole belief system is structured around that knowledge. At birth, they’re given a number, rather than a name. When they reach that number, they present themselves to the ruler for their final ‘moment’. It’s an arrangement that works for most of the citizens. Certainty provides a form of contentment. Contentment begets a stable society. Inevitably, it doesn’t last.

Lucianne McEvoy and Anna Sheils- McNamee in The Numbered.

The audience in Fitzgerald’s Park watches this strange proposition unravel in a gorgeous night-time setting on the banks of the Lee. While the play itself won’t be everyone’s cup of dystopian tea, this is an impressive production, just as we’ve come to expect from director Pat Kiernan and co. Mel Mercier’s soundscape fills the air with foreboding. Performances are solid, even if you’ll never connect too much to the characters.

After a late start to wait for darkness, attendees exit the park gates by about 11.35pm. Yes, sometimes it’s good to know when it ends.

Until June 30

Union Black - Neptune Stadium

The circus world is currently trumpeting its 250th anniversary, and this genre-bursting show provides a pointer for a new direction in the 21st century. Performing animals and revealing costumes are out. Hip-hop moves and topical references are in for a show that combines elements of the street, the theatre and the Big Top.

The Brexit crisis provides an ideal theme for the multi-national 13-piece ensemble to riff on, with high- wire antics and acrobatics, as well as choreographed football dances and slow-mo terrace violence. Italian and Irish accents are among a chorus of voices trying to persuade a man in a Union Jack suit not to leave the group. Galway’s Alex Allison provides one of the highlights of the evening with his witty juggling routine.

Union Black is fast-paced and fun, and you suspect that if the group return for next year’s Midsummer Festival, they could include a sketch involving a can still being kicked down the road.

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