Tall Tail, Cork School of Music
This one-dog show from ALSA Productions, directed by Al Dalton, tells the story of Here-Boy, whose happy existence on the street is threatened when the ‘blue lights’ come and his homeless owner and best friend Fran is taken to hospital.
James de Burca as Here-Boy perfectly conveys boundless and affectionate canine energy, his open and winning presence engaging the young audience from the start. There is also wisdom in his innocence though. His observations of the peculiar behaviour of humans who miss out on so much because they have “their noses in their phones” strike a particular chord.
The thought and creativity that has gone into this production is obvious from every angle, especially the inventive set and lighting design. Also inspired are the beautifully composed, sometimes haunting, musical interludes delivered by a duo of beanie-bedecked buskers, Rebecca Ruane and Conor Clancy.
As night falls, Here-Boy begins to feel the darkness encroach but as morning dawns, so too does his hope and optimism. There are many lessons in this tender and imaginative exploration of the homelessness crisis but they are not delivered in a didactic way. It is more a reflection on the importance of recognising our fellow humanity. As in EM Forster’s famous epigraph to Howard’s End, the lesson of this thought-provoking production is ‘only connect…’.
The Bluffer’s Guide to Suburbia, Granary Theatre
Watching Ray Scannell’s self-penned show about a failed musician in a small space in the middle of the Granary Theatre is like being at an intimate gig. Joining Scannell (on keyboard and guitar) is Peter Power (on drums and other instruments ) who contributed to the musical composition. Christiane O’Mahony plays the harp.
Scannell, who wrote the appealing melodic music (with occasional punkish snarling) narrates Finn’s story in the third person. Travelling by boat back to his parents’ home in suburban Dublin from London, this ‘kidult’, aged nearly forty, is all washed up. He had some early success in a band but is now lucky to be stacking shelves in his local supermarket.
Just as Finn’s story is one of disappointment, so too is his take on the wider world. He despairs about the state of the planet and closer to the bone, complains that he and his ilk are made to feel like second class citizens for not being able to pay extortionate rent.
This is a timely play, very well written and acted with wry understatement. If belly-aching about the world sounds off-putting, fear not. It is well handled.
Cosy, Firkin Crane
The name might suggest otherwise but the premise of Cosy, from the Gaitkrash theatre company, is far from a comforting one — what makes a ‘good’ death and should we have the right to choose one for ourselves.
The elderly Rose (Máirín Prendergast) asks “if it is a crime to want the leave the party early — I don’t like the music and there’s no-one to talk to”.
However, appearances can be deceptive and Rose, who claims to be 82 but is actually 76, seems in perfectly good health, at points, bounding across the stage like a teenager.
It is unclear at first why her daughters and granddaughter are congregating in her home — certainly not to offer any kind of love or support as bickering and recriminations abound. Pauline O’Driscoll gives an excellent performance as the droll depressive daughter Ed, as does Sara Beer as interloper and truth-teller Maureen.
While there are many existential questions to consider here, the lesson would appear to be that it is the ones that know us best who know how to hurt us best.