Fishamble are tackling the big issues with their new play Guaranteed! In some ways there is no bigger issue in recent years than the actions of the Brian Cowen led government on the night of the 29th of September, 2008. It was the night when it became apparent that the many years of madness in the Irish banking sector had come to a head, and if they didn’t act Anglo would fail and possibly take the rest of the Irish banks with it. The actions of the Government on that night have long been argued by economists as to whether they were right or wrong, but this is the first time this dilemma has been brought to the stage.
The play takes the form of a number of short scenes in the Department of Finance, the board rooms of banks, the Central Bank and the offices of hedge funds in London who set the events in motion by gambling against the Irish banks. These scenes bring you up to date with the time, with various American banks failing, and the pressure the Irish banks were coming under as they scrambled for liquidity. The line between fact and fiction is blurred, as the scenes that take place in public largely use the words of those involved, whereas those that took place in private they are obviously fiction. The writer Colin Murphy took on this massive topic in his first stage play, and the amount of research he carried out on the topic is clear, but the hardest thing in a play like this is what to leave out rather than what to put in.
The portrayal of the Taoiseach Brian Cowen and the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan is central to the play, and they are not shown to be bungling idiots or keystone cops, but as ministers who had taken their eye off the ball for far too long and are now swimming against a merciless tide. This play is serious in tone even though there are a number of laughs along the way, these are largely due to how ridiculous the situation is in retrospect and how we now view them with hindsight.
This production of the play was a performed reading and the actors have the script in their hands throughout, so this is early doors for the new play but this did little to dampen the experience as the impressive cast work through these financial ramblings. All the actors play a number of different roles and the scenes change quickly, with only a projection on the back wall and narrator telling us the new location, with movement of the desk and chairs around the set creating the new location.
It is clear that this is a topic that people need to discuss and the majority of the audience stayed on for the after show talk. The talk covered a wide range of topics and gave a good insight into how the play itself was developed with actor Peter Daly revealing that when they started rehearsal, the play was twice as long before they started the task of editing it to a more manageable size. It is a fascinating topic that affects all our lives, and make sure you leave time for a coffee after the show, so you can discuss, rant and otherwise dissect the play and the real events behind it.
Fishamble’s production of Guaranteed! finishes at the Civic Theatre tonight, but you can expect to see this back on the stage very soon (possibly even in the Theatre festival, with the programme announced this week!).
Cast: Peter Daly, Peter Hanly, Darragh Kelly, Mark Lambert, Caitríona Ní Mhurchú
Directed by Conall Morrison
Panelists for Monday, 1st July include: Colin Murphy (writer), Eamonn Maloney (Labour TD), Noel Whelan (Barrister, Author, Political Analyst and Columnist with The Irish Times), Glenna Lynch (Businesswoman and Active Citizen) and Peter Daly (Actor & Accountant). Chair: Gavin Kostick (Fishamble).
Panelists for Tuesday, 2nd July include: Colin Murphy (writer), Jim Power (lecturer Finance and Economics DCU), Dan O’Brien (Irish Times Economics Editor), Johnny Fallon (Political commentator, Author of ‘Brian Cown In His Own Words’ & ‘Dynasties’) and Peter Daly (Actor & Accountant). Chair: Gavin Kostick (Fishamble).