New drama takes centre stage in TDC initiative

Pat Kiernan, artistic director, Corcadorca, at the Theatre Development Centre, Triskel

Theatre is thriving in Cork: SHOW is a festival of original work and continues at the Triskel Arts Centre until Sunday.

The six plays have been work-shopped at the Theatre Development Centre (TDC), at Triskel.

TDC is an initiative by Corcadorca, an opportunity to produce work without prohibitive costs. The plays are being showcased for audiences, but also for theatre programmers who may decide to stage the work in their venues.

SHOW is a mixed bag, but even the weaker plays have individuality and an appetite for experimentation. The strongest play, Broken Crow’s Lifedeath, is an absurdist drama written by Adam Wyeth. It takes off in wildly unexpected directions, but has a moral basis (see review, left).

Three of the plays are one-man shows, which facilitates touring. Wish I Was ... is an impressive piece written and performed by Laura Wyatt O’Keeffe, of Just Made It Productions. It follows a young woman, Aisling, on a journey through Thailand and Australia. She is running away from herself. The writing is evocative, conjuring up the teeming masses in Bangkok and Aisling’s emotional fragility. Shane O’Sullivan’s original sound-score adds to the pulsating atmosphere.

X and Y, by Niamh Moroney and Donna Rose O’Keeney, of Tada theatre company, is set in the dressing room of a drag artist who is acutely feeling the absence of his deceased lover. In this one-woman show, Moroney, whose character is a ‘lady boy,’ gives a compelling performance, full of pathos and the tarnished romance of dressing up flamboyantly. However, the character is not sympathetic. He is abrasive and greedily addicted to cocaine and booze, and in thrall to the mythology of dying young, with the drag artist citing James Dean, Janis Joplin and Marilyn Monroe. It’s all a bit adolescent.

The third one-person show is A Practical Guide to Women, written by Dónal Gallagher, of Asylum Productions, and performed by Damian Punch. The show is in the form of a simplistic lecture by a gauche character who is mystified by women (or ‘wimmin’, to use the spelling he scrawls on his white board).

Punch sustains an intense performance as an inept, ignorant man from rural Ireland, who is more in tune with farmyard animals than the opposite sex. He is a cliché, using agricultural terms in his banal lecture. One of his headings is ‘how to maximise your yield from the woman.’ You wonder how Punch will maximise his story, which goes nowhere, until a sinister turn, but the wait isn’t altogether worth it.

Roundhouse Productions’ One sees Ross Jonas playing a man having a meltdown. He is alienated by the modern world, which is represented by two men sitting silently at their laptops, suggesting officialdom in a society gone crazy. The men may be silent, but there is constant noise, with the dissonant sounds of social-welfare clerks demanding information. The sound-art gives this piece an edge, and references to Russell Brand and Morrissey make it topical.

Conflicted Theatre’s Mirror comes across as under-developed. It’s based on early versions of the Snow White fairy tale. Once the vanity of the Queen is revealed — and reinforced ad nauseam — there is little else of substance here. Rosie O’Regan, however, gives a good performance as the shallow queen and is wonderfully agile on her trip to the fountain of youth.

* SHOW continues at the TDC @ Triskel until Sunday, Dec 8.


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