Festivals

Eeating Seals and Seagulls Eggs – Project Arts Centre – Tiger Dublin Fringe Review

eating-seals-and-seagulls-eggs

Eating Seals and Seagulls Eggs – Project Arts Centre – until 20th Sept

If you ask people of a certain age about their memories of secondary school, an often repeated topic is the hatred of one book; Peig Sayers. It is a story of another era and a way of life quite far removed from the majority of the teenagers forced to read it. The text was mandatory, but this status was removed nearly 20 years ago and while it is still on the course, it is no longer a unifying topic for all Irish school goers.

In this work, Caitríona Ní Mhurchú sets out to explore the book, while discussing her own life as a native speaker in Ireland. Caitríona is joined on stage by fellow performer Louise Lewis and the piece takes the form of a free wheeling conversation between the two, as images and ideas are discussed. The remit is cast further as it also explores Ireland’s relationship with its national language.

The stage is impressive with a number of large metal shelves, filled with a variety of old televisions and recording devices. On the back wall of the stage, there are projections of the Blasket Islands and a lifestyle long since vanished, these scenes are mirrored on the old televisions. The images flash before returning from whence they came and are shortly replaced by another. The rest of the stage is strewn with chairs and tables.

The production starts strong, Caitríona intermittently plays the role of Peig and elements of the book are discussed. These are nicely broken up with recordings of people talking about their hatred of the book. Some talk of removing the letter ‘e’ from the title to leave just Pig, while others gave it a much worse fate. Caitríona is a native speaker and she recounts the fascinating reactions she has received when speaking Irish in public. The language is met with ridicule and during her school years she was treated like an outsider for being a fluent speaker.

There are many impressive elements in this production and the use of  humour during the early parts really helped to break the flow of sad and distant images. Humour is a very important tool if you wish to deal with difficult topics and it worked well. As the play progressed, this humour diminished and eventually disappeared completely and we were left with a slow moving text and you could feel the atmosphere change in the room. There is great potential in this work and if edited and reduced in length it could be quite special, but in its current format it remains unfulfilled. If you have a particular interest in Peig or the Irish language it will probably resonate but the majority of viewers will lose heart.

Eating Seals and Seagulls Eggs – Project Arts Centre – until 20th Sept

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