Review: Theatre - Gentrification

Cork Savings Bank

****

Corcadorca has the keys to a bank and has milked it for all it’s worth. The company’s latest site specific production, in collaboration with Eat My Noise, takes place in the disused former Cork Savings Bank on Lapp’s Quay. The theme of Enda Walsh’s play, directed by Pat Kiernan, is the resistance of a community to the gentrification of its neighbourhood — and the terrible action it has taken to foment what one of the two characters calls a revolution.

But before the audience encounters the confrontation between the protagonists — Barry (Kieran Ahern), a tightly coiled working class man; and Enda (Evan Lordan), an achingly middle class husband and father of a four-year-old girl — we are taken on a journey around the building.

A room contains four television screens, one of which shows a young girl’s empty bedroom. There are also telephone receivers dangling from the ceiling of the room with impersonal recorded instructions to press various numbers for different bank services.

We encounter Barry, stretched out on a sofa flicking between The Simpsons and a game of tennis on television, with the remains of a fry in a shabby kitchen full of unpleasant odours.

Later, having witnessed Enda, in nothing but shorts, manically cleaning tiles in the main public area of the bank, we are led behind the tellers’ desks on which documents for ‘mortgage application for credit’ lie. But when we are brought up the long staircase to the boardroom, what is supposed to be under negotiation is not a bank loan but rather, the fate of Enda’s little girl — and other children.

The audience sits around a vast table with Barry and Enda, opposite each other, with spotlights trained on them. Barry controls the conversation. He steers Enda back to the story of the start of his day several times.

This is trademark Walsh, repetitive and ritualistic. Barry is quick to nip poetic and emotional outpourings in the bud. There is an emotional flatness to this play and at times, blandness, aided by ambient elevator music. But underneath, it is deeply disturbing and well executed.

Colette Sheridan

  • Until November 28



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